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Seau in Oakland was can’t miss entertainment

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 11:40 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Some day either there will be a new football stadium in Oakland or the Raiders will leave town, but they’ll never replace the memories that only a few of us in the business had when watching Junior Seau play at the Coliseum.

Say what you will about the crumbling Coliseum, but the best thing about being part of the home team media is that opposing coaches are right next door in what is normally the home radio booth for baseball. A thin sheet of plexiglass is all that separates the visiting coaches from the press.

That was never more advantageous or entertaining than when Seau played against the Raiders in Oakland, which fortunately happened every season. It was one of the first things I thought of today when the news broke that Seau had taken his own life at age 43.

I’ll leave the heartfelt tributes for Seau to guys like Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated and Mike Silver of Yahoo Sports!, both of whom did him justice Wednesday in a way I never could. Take the time to click on the above links if you want an idea of what Seau was all about.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with bad news, and in this case, I’ll choose to remember the reaction Seau often got from his own coaching staff when facing the Raiders, because it will never fail to make me smile.

Seau played linebacker as if it were a saxophone in a jazz composition. He knew the notes, but was a firm believer in instinct and improvisation.

It drove his coaches nuts on game day. Here they had painstakingly put in a game plan, with every permutation accounted for. Only to have Seau freelance and play from the heart.

“#!%&!$#@ Junior, what the hell are you doing!,” coaches would shriek through into their headsets. “No, no, no no! . . . . Yes, yes, yes, yes!! . . . Great play, Junior!.”

It was incredible theater, listning to his coaches rip Seau for his freelancing and then in the next instant be delighted when he came up with a big play.

We usually got Seau once a year on the conference call the Chargers set up with opposing writers, and he seldom failed to disappoint. He spoke from the heart, his passion for the sport always evident.

I mentioned to Seau the things we’d heard in the press box, how coaches were besides themselves because he’d gone his own way, then ecstatic a moment later when he made a big play.

I thought I’d get at least a chuckle out of it, instead, he seemed a little disgusted.

Seau explained that perhaps the coaches never understood that perhaps his instinct came from extensive study and passion for the game. That maybe he knew what he was doing it was probably time the coaches understood that, although Seau seemed to doubt they ever would.

To be fair, there were games, particularly in the Jon Gruden years, where the Raiders seemed to be able to lure Seau out of position and his impact would be minimal. But those instances were far outweighed by the times Seau was a legitimate force. To my knowledge, there was never a time when anyone associated the Raiders ever looked forward to playing him other than having the opportunity to measure themselves against an all-time great.

There were no mixed emotions in the visiting press box, where the Seau dynamic was as good as it gets.

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  • Dakota

    Cubs win!
    LA Kings win!
    Lakers win!

    Yesterday was a good day.

  • RaiderRockstar
  • Dakota

    I e-mailed Jon Becker, I am sure he will have a new post up soon.

  • http://www.actionext.com/playlist_57486.html La Milicia Negra

    –”Raiders signed franchise player SS Tyvon Branch to a one-year, $6.22 million contract. According to NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora, Branch is still “very much seeking a long-term deal,” so it’s unclear if he’ll report for the Raiders’ mandatory June minicamp. The Raiders are still up against the salary cap, and would benefit from getting Branch signed to a long-term pact and lowering his 2012 cap number. The sides have until July 16 to reach a long-term agreement”–

  • RaiderRockstar

    DHB doesn’t have drops at crucial times? How about the fumble late in the Detroit game last year. Everyone points to the defensive let downs that game, myself included, but if DHB doesn’t cough that ball up we ice that game right there and the defense doesn’t matter… and lets be honest, before last season’s improvements DHB would never even be looked at in a crucial moment.

    ***

    @bcz

    you mean the game where Heyward-Bey had 8 catches for 155 yards and a TD?? that fumble happened in the 3rd qtr (nice try) I asked for 3rd down or 4th qtr

    how about the pass off Chaz Schilens’ hands with 2:32 left ??

  • Dakota

    You never know….Jon, Steve and Jerry might be off on one of those company imposed unpaid furloughs…..

  • RaiderRockstar

    glad to see Tyvon signed before the mandatory camp this week. I rescind that comment about him being a greedy douche

  • Marks hair

    Gasol needs to get agressive, he’s not drawing a double and hes normally bigger than his defender.

  • RaiderRockstar

    new post

  • Marks hair

    Branch seems like a good egg. I think we’re becoming a high caracter team..

  • Dakota

    If he wants a longer contract, then Branch needs to show up and prove to the new coaching staff that he is more than just the guy who compiles lots of tackle numbers 10 yards down field, or the guy that is toasted for TDs and then looks around the end zone with a confused look on his face like it was someone else’s fault the opposition just scored ANOTHER TD through the air.

  • r8eray

    La Milicia Negra Says:
    May 7th, 2012 at 8:05 am
    –”Raiders signed franchise player SS Tyvon Branch to a one-year, $6.22 million contract. According to NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora, Branch is still “very much seeking a long-term deal,” so it’s unclear if he’ll report for the Raiders’ mandatory June minicamp. The Raiders are still up against the salary cap, and would benefit from getting Branch signed to a long-term pact and lowering his 2012 cap number. The sides have until July 16 to reach a long-term agreement”–

    ======

    I’m sure Jerry or Steve (Jerry before Steve) will have something typed up within the next 4-6 hours!

    Thanks LMN!

  • bcz24

    @bcz

    you mean the game where Heyward-Bey had 8 catches for 155 yards and a TD?? that fumble happened in the 3rd qtr (nice try) I asked for 3rd down or 4th qtr

    how about the pass off Chaz Schilens’ hands with 2:32 left ??
    *************
    Oh, it was 3rd quarter so it doesn’t matter. I see…

    I agree 100% about the schilens play… remember when you were hating on Hue for the play call I brought that up.

    I gotcha though. DHB can do no wrong since he made his way into the ‘Rockstar scholarship program’… but Ford, he just sucks.

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