Decision To Muzzle Junior Seau’s Daughter Rooted in Cowardice

The NFL sure operates with hubris. As reported Friday by the New York Times, Junior Seau’s family will not be taking the podium in Canton next weekend to give the presenting speech Seau wanted and deserves. According to the story, the now deceased Seau told his daughter, Syndey, that if he ever were to make it to the Hall of Fame he wanted her to speak at his induction ceremony.

But the league, guised by the Hall of Fame, has decided to muzzle Syndey and the whole Seau clan in atrocious fashion. Had the NFL come out and said, ‘We don’t want Seau’s family to speak because we fear they will focus on his suicide and the CTE found in his brain as a result of playing football and we’re currently engaged in a wrongful death lawsuit and don’t want to give them such a massive platform to reiterate their case,’ at least that would have been honest. At least that would have made sense.

Instead, it attempts to hide behind corporate separation, forcing a couple of poor officials from the Hall of Fame to help squash an obviously controversial decision by pretending as if they were the decision-makers. Please. I find it impossible to believe that the Hall of Fame had any more say in this decision than did league executive vice president Troy Vincent when he, and not Roger Goodell, “handed down” the original Deflategate punishment.

The Hall, and by the Hall I mean the league, thinks it can hide behind a relatively new rule that deceased inductees don’t get introduction speeches because apparently the speakers just repeat what was shown in the video tribute, and there’s only so much time.  They are quick to point out that no one spoke for Les Richter in 2011. The notion that Richter, a superstar linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams in the 50’s and early 60’s and an Army Lieutenant in the Korean War, didn’t warrant an introduction speech is preposterous. But attempts to analogize Richter with Seau are even more so.

Richter wasn’t inducted into the Hall until 49 years after he retired. Junior Seau was a first-ballot Hall of Famer whose exuberance transcended the San Diego Chargers, in a time when the NFL was the country’s most popular sport.  Seau was the type of player and person who made strangers feel emotionally connected to him in an instant.  His daughter could stand at that podium in Canton next Saturday and say two words or repeat every word in the tribute video verbatim and, believe me, no one is changing the channel.

Of course the league is afraid of what actual words would come out of Syndey’s mouth, and they should be.  But ironically, muzzling the Seau family and denying his daughter the opportunity to introduce him, may prove harmful in the ongoing litigation. If the Seau family wants to criticize the NFL’s handling of head injuries, the media will be more than happy to oblige, especially now. And if the Seau case ever got to a closing argument, the jurors will get to hear one more pretty compelling example of the league’s attempt to avoid transparency.