EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 2, 2012

UPDATE: Former Patriot Junior Seau found shot dead

SAN DIEGO — The death of former NFL great Junior Seau is being investigated as a suicide.

Seau, 43, a 12-time NFL Pro Bowl linebacker, was found dead today in his home in Oceanside, California.

Authorities said he was shot once in the chest.

Police were called to the residence of the former New England Patriot and San Diego Charger's football star after the body was found by a woman who identified herself as Seau's girlfriend.

The Chargers released a statement on Seau's death saying he was "local hero."

"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."

He is the second high profile NFL player to die in such a manner in recent months.

Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson committed suicide. Duerson shot himself in the chest on Feb. 17. A suicide note said he shot himself in the chest so that his brain could be examined for symptoms of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a trauma-induced disease common to NFL players and others who have received repeated blows to the head.

Seau ended his career as a New England Patriot - being called out of retirement.

Several Patriots have released statements on Seau on Twitter, including Chad Ochocinco:

"My prayers and condolences to the family of one of the NFL's greatest linebackers to ever play the game ... Junior Seau ... RIP"

Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowler and six-time First-Team All-Pro, was selected fifth overall in the 1990 NFL draft after an outstanding collegiate career at USC. He played with the San Diego Chargers through the 2002 season, spent 2003-2005 with the Miami Dolphins, and then signed with the New England Patriots in time for the 2006 season. In New England's perfect regular season of 2007, he played in all 16 games and started four. Seau first retires after that season, only to come back and play in 2008 and 2009 before finally leaving the NFL for good.

"I'm going to go surf," he told Showtime upon his January 2010 retirement announcement. Whatever happens, I can say, honestly say, that that probably was my last game."

Seau is the eighth member of the Chargers 1994 Super Bowl team to pass. We will keep you updated on this story as more news is confirmed.