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His girlfriend found him dead in his bed, law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times.
Seau played 20 seasons in the NFL, including four in New England. He played 13 seasons in San Diego and three in Miami.
Update at 3:45 p.m.: The San Diego Chargers have released the following statement:
Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they're doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family.
Mike Reiss, who reports for ESPNBoston.com and often discusses the Patriots on our air, has posted a reflection of Seau's time in New England. It ends:
Passion. Presence. Energy. Motivational speaker. Sense of humor.
Those are some of the things that come to mind when reflecting on Seau’s time with the Patriots.
Update at 4:05 p.m.: In its writeup, NPR's Two-Way Blog makes the following point:
If Seau did commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest, comparisons will be made to the February 2011 death of former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson. Before shooting himself in the chest, Duerson wrote a note asking that his brain be studied for chronic traumatic encephalopathy — a disease linked to depression. As NPR's Tom Goldman reported at the time, some NFL retirees have shown signs of the disease.
In 2009, we reported that the NFL had partnered with Boston University to study CTE.
Update at 4:25 p.m.: The Patriots released the following statement:
We were shocked to hear of the initial reports regarding Junior Seau earlier today and are deeply saddened by the news of his death. We were fortunate to have had Junior join the Patriots in 2006 and are thankful for his many contributions to the team over the next four years. He had a legendary NFL career and his unrivaled passion for the game quickly made him a fan favorite here in New England. This is a sad day for the entire Patriots organization, our coaches and his many Patriots teammates. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his many friends who will mourn this loss.
This program aired on May 2, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.
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