The NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame missed the boat on Saturday night.
It comes around every year in the month of August as former kings of the gridiron are forever immortalized with a gold jacket and bust in Canton, Ohio. There were eight that were enshrined on Saturday, highlighted by Bill Polian, Jerome Bettis and Junior Seau. Seau took his own life in May of 2012 with a gunshot wound to the chest. He was an all-time great linebacker and he flashed utter brilliance from the word go after being a first round draft choice by the San Diego Chargers in the 1990 NFL Draft. He played 20 years and had 1,846 career tackles and 56.5 sacks. He was a play-maker who liked to freelance and let his eyes lead the way. He was a player who was worth the price of admission because you never knew when he would make a game-changing play. He was a 13-time Pro Bowler and an eight-time All-Pro and was the defensive player of the year in 1992. He played the game with such passion and heart that it resonated through the television set. He should be still living his life to this day with the same passion that he played the game with, but sadly he is not.
It was determined after his death that he was suffering from CTE after sustaining multiple blows to his head during his playing career. The Seau family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL.
On Saturday night, it should have been about Junior Seau the player, and it was for the most part, but it was not in total. Why? Because we did not get a chance to hear Sydney Seau speak about her father.
She did a question and answer session, but we did not get a speech. That is what most everyone wanted on Saturday evening and we did not get it. For some reason, in 2010, the Hall passed a bylaw that prohibited substitute speakers for a posthumous enshrinee. Now they made an exception to that bylaw and allowed Sydney Seau to speak but it was limited to a question and answer session. That is not good enough.
On Sunday, the New York Times released a nine-and-a-half minute video of Sydney Seau giving the speech that she should have given on Saturday evening. It was about her father and not about concussions. It was emotional and sad. It was perfect. It should have been delivered on Saturday evening in Canton, Ohio. It was not. It appeared to be filmed in a hotel room in Canton. Her words described her father as a loving and passionate man who will forever be missed. Just as the four Seau children will forever miss their father and we will all miss No. 55, the Hall and the NFL missed an opportunity. They missed a chance to get real on Saturday evening.
We all glorify the men who play in the NFL. To some they are role models, heroes and champions. To 21-year-old Sydney Seau, that was her father. She wanted to tell us more about that man and who he was away from the game. She did. On video. She should have been given the clearance to give a speech on a stage.