Seau explains himself

A few short days after having a grand departure from football at the expense of the San Diego Chargers, Junior Seau is back in the NFL and suiting up for the New England Patriots.

He explained everything that transpired on a conference call with reporters…

Tell us about what happened.

Junior Seau: I had to fly from San Diego here to New England and I just threw my nose right into the playbook.

Does any of the playbook look familiar?

Junior Seau: There is some terminology that is familiar to me, but I'm just trying to get it all down and obviously get out there on the field. Hearing the communication during the plays will be a big difference.

You were retiring a week ago and now you're here. Why and how much football do you think you have left in you?

Junior Seau: Why? Because I received a call from the New England Patriots and I felt that there was obviously a great interest for them to even respect me enough to allow the call and there is a great fit here. That's what I believe and I believe that they have great plans here and there's a chance to win something big here and we're going to go for it.

Did Rodney [Harrison] play any role in this at all?

Junior Seau: Rodney logged a couple of calls. He'll probably get a finder's fee.

Was his presence one of the things that appealed to you here?

Junior Seau: That and just being the franchise that the New England Patriots are. Obviously, we understand where their focus is and that's to win championships and it's something that I'm missing in my career and I just feel like there's an opportunity that can be seized right now.

Obviously with everything that happened in San Diego on Monday, this has caught a lot of people by surprise. Can you give us a timeline of how this happened? Did you have an inkling of this on Monday? How do you respond to the fans that are kind of shocked by this?

Junior Seau: I think we're all shocked. I think only time will kind of prove it and then we'll bear it. It was a call that was made on Tuesday morning after, obviously, the press conference, which was a great day and there was an interest by the New England Patriots. We discussed it for two days and obviously I made a trip down here to come and take a physical and see the facilities and meet with the management and here we are.

Was this a no-brainer for you? Did it take a lot of thought on your part? Or as soon as they were interested was it something that was an automatic ‘yes'?

Junior Seau: There was definitely a thought process in which obviously I had to talk with family members and kind of see where they [the Patriots] thought I fit and how they were going to utilize me and everything else. But, when a championship team calls, you definitely have to answer the call and look into it and that's exactly what I did.

What is your understanding of what your role is going to be? You made it very clear on Monday that you didn't want a team that just wanted you. You wanted a team that needed you.

Junior Seau: The role is definitely one that's going to be on the field at a linebacker position. What they do is a lot of things. There are going to be like two positions that I obviously can play and I've played them all. Wherever I fit, it's going to be something to their liking and mine.

With all of the experience and mileage you have on your body, if you're going to play middle linebacker, deal with fullbacks, deal with guards, deal with centers, is that asking too much for you to be able to do over the course of a 16-game regular season?

Junior Seau: We're just going to have to see. Only time can tell. One thing I won't do is I'm not going to promote something that is an unknown. I believe that going against a fullback is a lot easier than covering a wide receiver.

What do you think your experience in Miami and maybe some of the similarities between Nick [Saban's] system and [Bill] Belichick's system will give you in easing the process here?

Junior Seau: Well, it's going to definitely give me a jumpstart on things. Obviously with the terminology in which Nick came from was through Belichick and Bill Parcells there. The scheme is something that is similar, but there are terminologies and there are a couple of wrinkles in there that are different and those are the things that I need to learn.

Does part of this decision have something to do with leaving football the right way? Does this give you an opportunity maybe to go out more on your terms?

Junior Seau: That's part of it. There's a lot of things that come into play when it comes to my role of deciding to come back in the National Football League after two days of retirement. Number one it was basically a team that has an opportunity and a role I can play, that I can contribute to the opportunity of winning a championship. Obviously leaving the last two years with an injury wasn't something that was satisfying.

Did you retire reluctantly?

Junior Seau: No, I graduated.

Did you graduate with reluctance?

Junior Seau: I didn't graduate with any kind of reluctance.

Did you leave the game reluctantly or were you forced out?

Junior Seau: No, there was a team that I felt really needed me. That's where it stands.

I'm just curious if you talked to Willie McGinest about the number 55? Have you spoken to him about wearing the number he wore for 12 years?

Junior Seau: I'm going to definitely respect Willie and the franchise here. We're definitely going to log a call to him and ask if we can wear his number and respect him in that way. He's done a lot here in New England and it's something that needs to be done and it's something that we will do.

As you've looked at the New England defense in your career from afar, what were your thoughts and how do you think that your skills fit to what their system is?

Junior Seau: Obviously they've been very successful on defense and it goes both ways. Offensively, they're up by 14 points so they can throw a lot of wrinkles at you with Belichick leading the way, he's obviously the mastermind of defense. That was one of the big keys of me coming back here and kind of getting under the belt of Belichick and the New England Patriots. Whatever role I play, it's going to be something that we're all going to be suited for and obviously we're going to try to have success at it.

How difficult is it for a guy at your age and one who has not been going through training camp at this point to get ready to play football?

Junior Seau: Only time can tell. Only time can tell. I can hypothetically give you answers, but we're just going to have to sit and wait and see how everything works out. We believe that it's going to be a win-win situation and we look forward to the challenge.

Will you play at all in the preseason?

Junior Seau: I will play during the preseason.

How about tomorrow?

Junior Seau: I will play during the preseason.

Are you going to be a two down linebacker mostly? Do you expect to be on the field first through third down?

Junior Seau: We don't know those answers. What we have is a playbook that I'm going to try to grasp and try to absorb in the next two days and obviously get ready for the preseason game next week and see what happens after that. But there's definitely a learning curve that I need to go through in order to kind of decide what we're going to do with that.

Is this a one year deal that you signed?

Junior Seau: Yes it is.

Where is your family going to be based out of?

Junior Seau: We haven't decided that yet.

Are you going to return any of the graduation gifts that you got the other day?

Junior Seau: No, I think I'm going to keep them and go after my masters and kind of do some other things with it.

Dean Spanos said you'd pay for the next retirement party.

Junior Seau: I didn't have a retirement party. It was a graduation party. You have to word it right.

So you are in grad school now?

Junior Seau: I'm going after my masters now.

The Patriots and Chargers could be two teams that could potentially be in the playoffs. Could you imagine facing the Chargers in the playoffs?

Junior Seau: I think that would be a delight for both Rodney and I. It would make for great story anyway.

What are your thoughts on teaming up with Rodney Harrison again?

Junior Seau: It was definitely a homecoming when I saw Rodney and obviously there were hugs and joyful cheers when we met. We've just had a lot of respect for each other throughout the years, both of us loving each other as people and players and we've definitely seen each other grow up.

The call came after your graduation announcement, not before it or during it?

Junior Seau: Tuesday morning is when I received the call.

In your mind was there any thought at all like, ‘I just graduated yesterday. Now this? How am I going to explain this one?' Have you thought about that at all?

Junior Seau: Definitely that came into play and if anyone heard the press conference, basically if a team would approach me I would definitely look at them, but there weren't any teams calling. There were teams that wanted me, but I didn't feel like they pushed for it. Obviously, when Bill Belichick and the Patriots called, you answer that kind of call and I did.

This had to be a situation where it was a team that was a contender. In any other case, you probably wouldn't have come back.

Junior Seau: Definitely. You definitely had to be a contender, number one. Number two was it just had to be someone who knows how to deal with veterans and they had to show that they know what they want. They have a plan or else they wouldn't have called me.

You said you would have two linebacker roles. Did you mean inside and outside?

Junior Seau: I've played all positions, inside and outside.

What are they going to ask you to do here?

Junior Seau: We haven't gotten to that yet.

So you're coming in kind of blind as to what they're going to ask you to do?

Junior Seau: They want me to play football.

Have you talked to anyone about how tough this defense is to learn?

Junior Seau: I've been through 16 years of defenses and obviously Nick Saban's playbook and there are some similarities. Obviously there is going to be a learning curve, which I'm going to have to go through, once again. There's nothing that I won't be able to grasp before the season.

For a guy who has been a starter for a long time, will you be happy with a limited role?

Junior Seau: I don't think I would be here if it would just be a secondary role. I don't expect to play every down.

Do you have any comments to the fans in San Diego who gave you a great outpouring on Monday and wished you well?

Junior Seau: I'm always a Charger.

Are you ready for the cold weather?

Junior Seau: Am I ready for the cold? This will be the first time. So it's definitely going to be an experience. I'm not here to look at the weather. I'm not here to talk about what my role is today. I'm here to learn and to perform on the football field and that's all I need to do.


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