(Seau photo courtesy of the San Diego Chargers)
Talk of Fame Network
Let’s hear it for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
One week after enforcing a five-year-old policy forbidding relatives of deceased enshrines to speak at their inductions, the Hall relented and announced that the daughter of Junior Seau — who is his presenter next weekend — will be given an opportunity “to share thoughts about her father” immediately after his bronzed bust is unveiled.
That decision is contrary to a policy the Hall adopted in 2010 and enforced one year later when Les Richter was inducted posthumously. And it is contrary to a policy the Hall reiterated a week ago when a New York Times story detailed Sydney Seau’s disappointment at not being given the chance to speak.
The unexpected move was made after the Hall drew criticism from fans and the media, and it’s a welcome change. While a rule is a rule is a rule, and this rule prevented the relatives of Les Richter to speak in 2011, the situation here calls for compassion – mostly because of circumstances surrounding Seau’s death.
Seau committed suicide in 2012 at the age of 43, with an autopsy revealing he suffered from chronic traumatic encepholapathy, a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated blows to the head. Seau had specified before he death that Sydney should speak on his behalf should he be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Seau is one of eight men to be enshrined Aug. 8.
“Our goal,” said Hall-of-Fame president David Baker, “is to maintain our policy regarding enshrinement speeches but also show compassion and understanding.”
According to the Hall, Baker’s decision was made after speaking with commissioner Roger Goodell, who encouraged him to seek other ways to allow Seau’s daughter to speak about her father.
Plans call for Sydney Seau and Junior’s three sons to be on stage for the unveiling of his bust – a moment usually reserved for the presenter and enshrinee. Then, Sydney will be allowed to speak “live and on-stage,” a Hall-of-Fame statement read, “in a fashion similar to interviews of returning Hall of Famers featured throughout the ceremony.”
As with others presenters, Sydney’s introduction of her father will be in video form, but it will be nearly twice as long as other presenters’ tributes. Sydney will also represent her father at the Thursday evening Gold Jacket Dinner and be interviewed in a broadcast nationally on the NFL Network.