The Hall of Fame will use a video when San Diego Chargers great Junior Seau is inducted before this season opens. They won’t let his daughter do the honors in person, as he wanted and as she would like to do. She will get to speak on the video, but she can’t do anything live.
This is not a policy made just for Seau, but it is fairly new. It’s been a rule since 2010.
It’s pretty clear here why the Hall of Fame is sticking to this stance. Seau suffered from CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which comes from concussions and head trauma. It’s widely thought that CTE led him to commit suicide. In fact, Seau purposely protected his brain during the suicide just so that people could study it.
That can’t be overstated. He made the whole thing even worse than it had to be because he thought it was of the utmost importance that researchers study his brain when he was gone.
Now, the Hall of Fame doesn’t want his daughter to get up there and talk about CTE. They don’t want her going on live at their biggest event of the year and saying football caused her father to kill himself. They’re scared she’ll use it as a platform to talk about an issue that is clearly important to her and that she feels passionately about.
With a video, they can preview it and edit it. They can make sure she doesn’t say anything they don’t approve of. They can ensure they don’t have a situation where they have to cut the mic and get her off stage.
It gives the Hall of Fame the power to plan its ceremony and its message entirely from the beginning.
His daughter has said she doesn’t even want to talk about CTE. She said she just wants to do what her father asked, to give the speech and honor his football career. No matter what they say publicly, it’s clear that the officials at the Hall of Fame don’t believe her. Not at all.
It’s understandable why they don’t. She and Seau’s other family members started a lawsuit against the league, saying Seau’s death was a wrongful death caused in part by the NFL. They’ve made their position clear, and they can say they weren’t going to talk about it, but the NFL just has to look at that lawsuit to know exactly what they think.
At the same time, it’s a damn shame. Seau clearly wanted his daughter to make the presentation, and she wants to honor him. She suffered a tragic loss, and this could have helped to bring the family that much closer to closure. It’s a huge honor either way, but this would have made it better, more real.
It’s also makes the Hall of Fame look bad, as the NFL has in recent years. The players have accused the league of covering up the CTE information, meaning it took way longer to reach the public than it should have. This looks like the Hall of Fame just stepping up yet again to stifle talk of the dangers of football.
And that’s a problem, because it has to be addressed. While the desire from purists to keep the game the same is understandable, and there is a sense that the game has grown softer in recent years, the solution isn’t to keep silent. It’s to put it out there, admit it’s a problem, and work to fix it so that game can be as thrilling and captivating as always—and safe.
The Hall of Fame doesn’t want the ceremony to be marred by an awkward speech they didn’t approve. Of course they don’t. But to just ignore the reasons for Seau’s passing doesn’t get the NFL any closer to fixing the issue. This isn’t something you can sweep under the carpet, hoping it blows over and goes away.