Dan Patrick interviews Junior Seau (uncut version)
A condensed version of this interview with Chargers linebacker Junior Seau appears in the Oct. 30 edition of ESPN the Magazine.
Dan Patrick: Junior? How you doing, buddy?
Junior Seau: Good. What do you want to hear from me? Anything political?
DP: I don't know. Have you got anything?
JS: Who am I talking to? Leo?
JS: Oh, this is Dan? What's up, Dan!
DP: Who did you think you were talking to?
JS: I don't know, I'm running in circles around here. Talk to me buddy, what's going on?
DP: Are you Republican?
|Junior Seau deserves props as one of the best linebackers in the NFL.|
JS: I am with the winner. I am noncommittal. I love everyone. I love Democrats, I love Republicans -- I love you, Dan, and that's the way it is.
DP: Do you love running backs?
JS: Well, if they're on my team.
DP: Do you love quarterbacks?
JS: If they're on my team.
DP: What if they're not?
JS: If they're not on my team, then we have a problem. We have a big problem, Dan, to tell you the truth.
DP: Did you ever take it personally when you face a running back or maybe a lineman and it becomes something more than just, "I'm competing against you"? ... When's the last time that happened?
JS: When I had a personal vendetta with one of my opponents?
JS: I would say my rookie year. ... I thought (this guy) was dirty. ... He kinda pushed me after the whistle and I didn't like that. That wasn't nice. I'm a nice guy, you know, that Dan.
DP: He pushed you after the whistle and you took it personally?
JS: Yeah, he pushed me after the whistle.
DP: And that's the only time you've ever taken it personally?
JS: That's the only time I took it personally. I mean, if a guy is going to yell at me or talk to me with some profanity, then we have a problem. We need to take care of it within the four quarters. Other than that, I rarely get into these confrontations.
DP: Would it help you sometimes if you take it personally?
JS: Would it help me?
DP: Yeah. Because sometimes ... it may take a hit from somebody for you to actually get into a game.
JS: You know Dan, I have the peanut gallery driving by right now and they're teasing me because I'm dressed up for some reason.
DP: Who is it? Your teammates?
JS: Yeah, Rodney Harrison and my buddy Steve Feldman.
DP: Why don't you just kick their asses?
JS: You know what, I wish I could -- but then I'll get sued and then, you know, who wins out of that?
DP: Not you.
JS: Not me, definitely not me.
DP: Give me three running backs you don't want to see coming through the hole.
JS: You know what, I love them all. I mean, Dan, there really isn't a running back that I hate seeing. I mean, if they have a ball and they're running through a hole, then we have a problem. If they're running in an open field, there's a big problem.
DP: OK, give me three running backs that you don't want to see in the open field.
JS: OK, I would say Earl Campbell.
DP: Yeah, but he's not playing now ... isn't there a group of guys you just would prefer not to have to chase down in the open field -- right now?
JS: Oh, Barry Sanders is the guy.
DP: I know, but he's not playing anymore.
JS: To me, Barry Sanders is coming back, Dan.
DP: Oh, he is?
JS: I doubt it very much that Barry Sanders is going to sit back and just let things slide knowing that he has a chance to right the records. He will be tough for me to handle.
DP: All right, so Barry Sanders is. But no other running back worries you?
||Dan, there really isn't a running back that I hate seeing. I mean, if they have a ball and they're running through a hole, then we have a problem. If they're running in an open field, there's a big problem. ”
JS: Another running back, you know who the up-and-coming running back is -- Edgerrin James.
DP: So there's some concern when you see him?
JS: Yeah, he has a little power to him and obviously he has a quickness and deceptive speed. He's one. Another is Marcus Allen, who is not playing anymore obviously...
DP: You don't want to give anybody today a compliment, do you?
JS: No, I want to give everyone a compliment. But see, the fact here is that if I say one guy, you know, there are a lot of guys neck-and-neck, and you can't mention them all and obviously, politically, it doesn't look good for me.
DP: We're back to being political, huh?
JS: Yes, we've got to be political on the radio, you know that.
DP: No we don't.
JS: OK ... I didn't know this was a trash-talking show, Dan Patrick.
DP: Well, it's not really trash, it's just ... honest.
JS: OK, to be honest with you, there aren't that many running backs that -- well, let's go with Marshall Faulk.
DP: All right, that's good.
JS: Faulk, yeah, he's a great running back.
DP: We're getting someplace.
JS: Yeah, I'm still into love now, Dan. I'm still into love here. Another guy, Eddie George.
DP: All right.
JS: Eddie George is a tough back. I mean, a lot of people think that he's tall and rangy, but the fact is he moves like a little cat. ... Let me reverse this question: Who would you be afraid of in open field?
DP: I would be afraid of just about anybody. But you know what, I would stick my head in there and at least get one lick. ... I would try it. I would get roughed up -- but, you know, I'd take my shot.
JS: On that one try ... would you bring it or just like fetal-position it?
DP: Let's put it this way -- I would give more of an effort to tackle than Deion Sanders does.
JS: Oh, you would do the trip job. You're the kind of guy who would go in the hole and stick your leg out hoping that he'd trip over it.
DP: I would not do the shoelace thing that Deion does. I would not kind of slow you down. I would go in there and want to pop.
JS: If Eddie George comes right at you, you're definitely going to hug the turf.
DP: You're right, you're right.
JS: See, that's why you're where you are and I am where I am. You're a smart guy and I'm not.
DP: Is the tight-end experiment over?
JS: Yeah, I retired as a tight end, it's gone.
DP: You retired as one of the great tight ends of the franchise, didn't you?
JS: I got one career catch and I was open, like, 20 times. So...
DP: And you got popped too.
JS: I did not get popped.
DP: Oh, you got your bell rung.
JS: Are you kidding me? That wasn't a hit.
DP: You got stood up and sat down.
JS: Did I get sat down?
DP: You got rocked.
JS: Dan, I did get rocked.
DP: I know, and you held on to the ball.
JS: I held onto the ball -- did you see how quick I got up?
DP: Yeah, you had no idea where you were.
JS: No, it was like a little kid in the shopping center, and he just sits on the cement and gets back up and starts to act like he didn't hurt. That was me.
DP: Can you say a couple of football phrases in Samoan?
JS: Football phrases in Samoan? Dan, I can't even speak English. You want me to jump to another language?
DP: But you didn't speak English until you were what, 7?
JS: Until 7, yeah. But I lost a lot of Samoan because I've been Americanized.
DP: You forgot Samoan?
JS: No, I didn't forget Samoan -- I understand it when you talk to me but, you know, to put phrases together I sound like I do in English. ... I'm just going to be political and not do either.
DP: You can't do any Samoan for me?
JS: You know what, I wouldn't do that to you on your show, because then callers are going to call up and they're going to critique me on my Samoan language -- and I'd hate that to be the case.
DP: So you backed down from a challenge? That is unbelievable.
JS: I'm backing down from that challenge. I'm a smart guy for backing down from that challenge.
DP: Who calls you by your given name (Tiaina)?
JS: My Mom and Dad.
DP: Are you in trouble when they call you by your given name?
JS: When my given name comes out, you know I'm in trouble. You know I forgot to leave tickets ... and you know I didn't send them bingo money. Have you ever played bingo?
DP: I love bingo.
JS: You love bingo?
DP: I love bingo.
JS: Dad comes to visit me every Thursday for his bingo money.
DP: So you give your Dad bingo money?
JS: Yeah, on top of a lot of other things. Dad goes out and splurges on bingo and has a good time with it and comes home and relaxes and gets ready for church the next morning.
DP: What entertainment skill do you have that might surprise people?
JS: I can sing.
JS: In the shower.
DP: Give me a sample, give me an idea.
JS: I can't sing on air.
DP: Why not? I can't believe you're afraid...
JS: Dan, Dan -- you know I'm an insecure person.
DP: You are?
JS: It's true. I'm very insecure. ... I won't sing out in public.
DP: But give me an idea of who you would sing ... in the shower.
JS: Don Ho, "Tiny Bubbles." What do you think?
DP: What else?
JS: Definitely "Tiny Bubbles" and some gospel music ... you know, "How Great Thou Art" ... music like that. Back in the days, you know, real music ... not the music that's just worked through the studios .... you know, the Manhattans, garage tunes man -- way back in the days ... Have you ever heard of Ray Parker Jr.?
DP: Yeah, I've heard of him.
JS: Those were good tunes back then, you know.
DP: I think you need to get out a little bit more.
JS: I do need to get out. I've been living a sheltered life. It's due.
||Football phrases in Samoan? Dan, I can't even speak English. You want me to jump to another language? ”
DP: Do you want your kids to play football?
JS: No, I want my kids to be Tiger Woods. And Serena Williams. I dig those two.
DP: So no football?
JS: Golf and tennis sounds good to me for my kids ... (but) little Jake is going to definitely play football. He's already at it.
DP: And you named him after Jake Plummer?
JS: Jake Plummer, yes...
DP: Does it bother you when your kids admire another football player?
JS: You know, it does -- because I have my picture up in every wall in my house to remind them to think of me. Yeah, it does bother me, Dan.
DP: Who does Jake like?
JS: Jake likes Bruce Smith and Barry Sanders.
DP: OK, you can live with that.
JS: Oh, I love those guys.
DP: But Gary Payton of the Supersonics -- his son loves Kobe Bryant more than he loves watching his dad.
JS: Well, that's great. I think that's admirable. That means that Gary Payton's doing a great job of being humble and allowing everyone else to take the spotlight. Isn't that good? It's rare in today's world.
DP: Yeah, OK.
JS: I stung you on that one, didn't I?
DP: Yeah, you did.
JS: I politically went correct on you.
DP: You know, that's got to go.
DP: Any predictions for the future of Ryan Leaf?
JS: Ryan Leaf is doing great now. If he progresses the way he is now, we're going to have a quarterback that's going to be reckoned with in the near future. And that's not political.
DP: Yeah, yeah, yeah...
JS: You don't like Ryan Leaf, and a lot of people are angry with Ryan Leaf -- and that's understandable. But the fact is, I'm telling you the truth.
DP: It's not that I don't like him ... I don't understand him, that's all I'm saying. ... I think he has a ton of talent. I just don't understand him, that's all.
JS: Well, when you're young, what is there to understand? I mean, when you were 22 years old, you did some stupid stuff.
DP: I was an idiot.
DP: Is there a position in football that you would not play?
JS: The Chargers' general manager job.
DP: Why's that?
JS: I wouldn't do that right now, 'cause we have two of them right now and it's up in the air.
DP: What about a position on the field?
JS: Oh, a position on the field ... let's see here ... a deep snapper -- you know, when you punt the ball.
JS: I didn't know whether or not you knew what the deep snapper was, so I wanted to explain that to you, Dan.
DP: Thank you, Junior.
JS: Deep snapper -- can you imagine just, like, looking between your legs, you've got to deliver a ball 15 yards to (the punter) ... and then get your butt ringed, every play.
DP: Is that the job, though? As the snapper snaps, the defense basically just beats him up?
JS: Yeah, you just go after him. He's in a vulnerable position and he's going to get attacked every single time he steps on the field. That is a bad position.
DP: You were a decent hoops player?
JS: I was a decent hoops player ... the last time I came on your show I was a great hoops player. Now I'm a decent hoops player.
DP: Yeah, you're decent -- you're getting old.
JS: I'm losing it now.
DP: Who plays like you in the NBA?
JS: I can't tell. ... You know, Charles Barkley played tough, but who plays a lot of roles on his team? Who doesn't have a label as a position? I don't have a label.
DP: Scottie Pippen?
JS: Scottie Pippen's the guy.
DP: What do you think about Dennis Miller in the booth?
JS: I think it's a great thing ... you have the knowledge with Al Michaels, and then you have Dan Fouts, who's the legend who played the game. And then you have Dennis Miller, who's going to be the character and the entertainment.
DP: But as a football player, do you want to hear football from Dennis Miller?
JS: But we're not going to hear football from Dennis Miller, I don't think. I think Al Michaels is going to be the guy that we're going to be listening to.
DP: What's the best meal at your restaurant?
JS: The best meal at my restaurant is the whole right side of the menu.
DP: No, you've got to pick out one ... I was going to say the free meal is the best one at your restaurant.
JS: The free meal is the best one, you got it -- just tell me when you're coming in and I'll buy you a meal.