Sunday, August 13, 2006

So Long To A Worthy Opponent

There aren't many players from rival teams that us Raider fans praise. It's hard enough just saying broncos, chiefs and chargers in a sentence for us. But we recognize and respect any player who plays with the heart and determination to win at any cost.

Junior Seau was such a player. In playing 13 seasons for rival San Diego Chargers he's earned every bit of respect from the Oakland Raiders players and fans alike. A 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker, he's the type of player that makes others playing with him better. A natural leader and stubborn opponent is how I'd define Junior Seau.

When San Diego came to town we Raider fans knew that our running game would need to play with a bit more energy and toughness because Seau was on the other side of the ball. To us, San Diego and Seau were synonomous. Mention the town and the player immediately came to mind. Even during pre-game tailgates before a Chargers game in Oakland, San Diego fans wearing Seau Jersey #55 were treated decently.

I've said it before and as I watch Junior Seau announce his retirment tomorrow I'll say it again. "Junior, you should have been a Raider." If we'd had Seau during our three year playoff run things would have turned out differently I'm sure.

- Baltimore Ravens TE Shannon Sharp would've never broken free for a 96 yard touchdown run in the 2000 AFC Championship.

- New England Patriots QB Tom Brady would've been pressured and sacked following the tuck-ruled fumble in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoffs. Heck, Junior would've gotten to him before CWood.

- Tampa Bay QB Brad Johnson would've been pressured into making the mistakes we know he's capable of in the 2002 Superbowl. Isn't he back to being a backup QB?

Maybe I'm just using the visions of Seau as a Raider to deal with my own Raiders nightmares. But if we could do it all again and were given a choice of one player to add to our roster, who better than Junior Seau in his prime.

Helmets Off to Junior Seau, a worthy opponent of the Oakland Raiders.

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