Police received a 911 call about a gunshot and possible suicide at Seau’s Oceanside, Calif., residence around 10 a.m. PT, a dispatcher told the San Diego Union-Tribune. That publication too had confirmation of Seau’s death.
“Junior was an icon not only in San Diego but throughout the nation. Of course this will affect a lot of people, not in the least the children and kids who look up to him,” Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell told the Union-Tribune.
“He had a great impact on many lives. He’s changed my life in many ways, I’m sure.”
In a release, the Chargers said: “Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they’re doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family.”
Seau’s two-story oceanfront home, in an area known as The Strand, had a crowd gathered outside, according to media reports.
Born Tianina Baul Seau Jr., he was the fifth child of Tianina Seau Sr. and Luisa Mauga Seau of Aunu’u, American Samoa.
Seau, 43, played for the San Diego Chargers after being the fifth overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft. He later played for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. He retired after the 2009 season.
During his career, Seau was named to the All-Pro team 10 times and to the Pro Bowl 12 times.
Police provided few immediate details regarding the incident to a San Diego TV station, which reported the story through its 10News.com website. In its story, the station said a witness heard a gunshot in the Seau residence.
Seau was a high school football star in San Diego who went to the University of Southern California before he entered the NFL. He spent 12 years with the Chargers.
In 2010, Seau was at the wheel of a Cadillac Escalade that went off Interstate 5 in Carlsbad, Calif. He was taken to a hospital for treatment and told police he fell asleep while driving.
That incident came hours after Seau was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend, who was 25 at that time, the Union-Tribune reported. Seau was never charged in that incident.
According to SI.com, Seau is the eighth member of the Chargers team that lost to the San Francisco 49ers in Super XXIX to die. Other players from the 1994 roster to pass include running back Rodney Culver, linebackers David Griggs, Doug Miller and Lew Bush, defensive linemen Shawn Lee and Chris Mims, center Curtis Whitley.