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Bill Belichick gets emotional making a Hall of Fame pitch for Junior Seau 12.03.14 at 8:02 pm ET
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Junior Seau pictured here in his final NFL game of a 20-year career, a playoff loss to the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Junior Seau pictured here in his final NFL game of a 20-year career, a playoff loss to the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick doesn’t often show emotion but when he does, it’s usually for very good reason.

Of all the players who have played for him, few touched him the way Junior Seau did in parts of four seasons (2006-09). Belichick was asked Wednesday to reflect on the life and times of the late linebacker who is up for Hall of Fame nomination this year.

“Tremendous. [I] loved Junior and his family,” Belichick said to reporters in San Diego. “[I] was out here for the funeral and it was very emotional. Nobody loved the game more than Junior did. Nobody would be more deserving to be in the Hall of Fame than Junior Seau. [He’€™s the] all-time leader in tackling [1522 in 20 seasons], but more than stats, his love of the game, his passion for the game, and the high level that he played at at a very difficult position. I mean, him, Clay Matthews [Jr.], guys to play as long as they did at that position as well as he did is phenomenal. He is so deserving. I hope it happens.”

Seau was one of those chosen to speak to the rally of Patriots fans in the snow at Gillette Stadium before the team went out to Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl XLII. It was in that perfect regular season of 2007 that Seau recorded the final 3.5 sacks of his career. He finished with 56.5 sacks over 20 NFL seasons.

It’s hard not to be reminded of Seau this week, as the former great linebacker grew up in San Diego.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Junior Seau, New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers
Ex-Patriots Ty Law, Junior Seau among HOF semifinalists 11.19.14 at 9:43 am ET
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Ty Law earned his red Patriots HOF jacket this year. Is a yellow one from Canton next? (Mike Petraglia/

Ty Law earned his red Patriots HOF jacket this year. Is a yellow one from Canton next? (Mike Petraglia/

Former Patriots Ty Law and Junior Seau are among 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame‘s class of 2015, it was announced Tuesday.

Law played 10 seasons with the Patriots as one of the best corners in the NFL, finishing with 36 interceptions during his time in New England. The two-time All-Pro ended his career with briefs stopovers with the Chiefs, Jets and Broncos before retiring after the 2009 season.

Seau played 20 years in the NFL, including the better part of four seasons with the Patriots (2006-2009). The linebacker, who also starred for the Chargers and Dolphins, is among eight first-year candidates in the balloting.

Kurt Warner and Tony Dungy were also among the headliners who made the initial cut. Warner is among eight first-year candidates in the balloting, while Dungy is in his second year on the ballot.

Other semifinalists include receivers Marvin Harrison, Tim Brown and newcomers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt; running backs Jerome Bettis, Terrell Davis, Roger Craig and newcomer Edgerrin James; safeties John Lynch, Darren Woodson and Steve Atwater; defensive ends/linebackers Charles Haley and Kevin Greene; linebacker Karl Mecklenburg; offensive tackles Joe Jacoby, Mike Kenn and newcomer Orlando Pace; guard Will Shields; newcomer center Kevin Mawae; placekicker Morten Andersen; and coaches Don Coryell and Jimmy Johnson.

The list will be cut to 15 modern era finalists to be considered on Jan. 31, the day before the Super Bowl, in Phoenix. Inductions will be in August.

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Read More: Junior Seau, Ty Law,
Ex-Patriots Tedy Bruschi, Ty Law among preliminary nominees for Pro Football Hall of Fame 09.17.14 at 7:00 am ET
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Tedy Bruschi (Getty Images)

Tedy Bruschi (Getty Images)

Several former Patriots are among the preliminary nominees for the 2015 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was revealed late Tuesday.

All of the nominees who made it who have New England ties were on the defensive side of the football. Linebackers Tedy Bruschi (who played with the Patriots from 1996-2008), Willie McGinest (1994-2005) and Junior Seau (2006-2009) are all on the list. In addition, Rodney Harrison (2003-2008), Ty Law (1995-2004) and Shawn Springs (2009) made it as well. And defensive lineman Fred Smerlas (1991-1992) and Ted Washington (2003) were also named as nominees.

A total of 99 players and 14 coaches comprise the 113 nominees. A modern-era player or coach must be retired at least five consecutive seasons to be eligible. The selection committee will choose 25 candidates as semifinalists in late November. That list will be reduced to 15 modern-era finalists in early January. The 2015 class will be voted on the day before the Super Bowl.

One senior committee nominee, former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff, also will be on the ballot.

Several former Patriots have already reached the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including offensive lineman John Hannah, linebacker Andre Tippett and cornerback Mike Haynes.

Read More: Andre Tippett, Fred Smerlas, John Hannah, Junior Seau
Report: Junior Seau had brain disease 01.10.13 at 7:52 am ET
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Gina Seau, the ex-wife of former NFL star Junior Seau, told ABC News that her former husband’s brain has tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to memory loss, depression and dementia. Junior Seau committed suicide last May, shooting himself in the chest at his home in Oceanside, Cailf. Within hours of his death, the Seau family had received calls from researchers hoping to use Seau’s brain for study.

The Seau family ultimately selected the National Institutes of Health, and five independent brain specialists consulted by the NIH all came to the conclusion that Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease associated with head trauma. Over 4,000 former NFL players are currently suing the league in federal court, claiming the league refuse to acknowledge the link between brain damage and football, even after CTE was found in retired players. The Seau family has not decided if it would join in the lawsuits.

“I think it’s important for everyone to know that Junior did indeed suffer from CTE,” Gina Seau told ABC News. “It’s important that we take steps to help these players. We certainly don’t want to see anything like this happen again to any of our athletes.”

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Rodney Harrison on The Big Show: NFL ‘trying to protect their butts’ 06.12.12 at 8:48 pm ET
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NBC football analyst and former Patriot Rodney Harrison appeared on The Big Show on Tuesday and discussed his thoughts on concussions in the NFL. To hear the interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page.

Harrison said that while he thinks the NFL is taking action to cut down on concussions to help the players, it is also doing its best to help itself in the public eye.

‘€œReally what the NFL is doing is they’€™re trying to clean up the game,’€ Harrison said. ‘€œThey know that they’€™re getting a lot of lawsuits with all of these different concussions and things of that sort and they are trying to protect not only the players, but they are trying to protect their butts because people are looking to sue them. Obviously with all these different guys lined up and filing these cases against the national football league it is very difficult right now for them.

‘€œI think they are doing the right thing by cutting out all of these physical padded practices, these minicamps and things of that sort because if I played in the time when they would have cut all these back I could have played 20 years.’€

Harrison went on to say that while it is on the NFL to help protect the players’€™ long-term health, the players themselves should understand the risk involved with playing in the NFL.

‘€œI think [the NFL is] doing the best job they can, but we as players, we have to understand that if we hit a 250-, 300-pounder helmet to helmet, guess what? It’€™s going to hurt,’€ Harrison said. ‘€œThere is a chance that you are going to have headaches, concussions. There is going to be physical damage, not just now but later on down the line when you get older. It’€™s the risk that you assume when you’€™re playing in the National Football League. You would have got to be a complete idiot not to sit back and understand that there are going to be repercussions running into a guy for a matter of three, four, five or 10 years. It is what it is. I’€™m not one of those guys.

‘€œI have experienced headaches and I have experienced dizziness and these things, but I’€™m not trying to file a lawsuit because I pretty much knew that. Guess what? I play a pretty tough sport. And guess what? It hurts, and it’€™s painful, and you’€™re going to have headaches and there are going to be long-term consequences to everything that you’€™ve done. And that is all part of the game.’€

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Read More: Junior Seau, Rodney Harrison,
Citing concussions, Tom Brady’s dad not sure he would let son play football 05.23.12 at 1:58 pm ET
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If he had to do it all over again, Tom Brady Sr. isn’€™t sure he would allow his son to play football.

In light of the growing body of research linking degenerative brain disease to the type of head trauma common in football, Brady Sr. told Yahoo Sports’€™ Michael Silver: “No, not without hesitation. I would be very hesitant to let him play.”

The comments come in the wake of Kurt Warner‘€™s admission that he would prefer his sons not play football. Warner received a good deal of criticism from fans and former players, including former Steelers running back Merril Hoge and former Giants receiver Amani Toomer.

Brady Sr., who did not let his son play until he was 14 years old, defended Warner’€™s position.

“This head thing is frightening for little kids. There’s the physical part of it and the mental part — it’s becoming very clear there are very serious long-term ramifications. I think Kurt Warner is 100 percent correct. He’s there to protect his children, and these other people who are weighing in are not addressing the issue of whether it’s safe or not for kids. All this stuff about, ‘He made his fame and fortune off of football,’ that’s true — but we didn’t know then what we know now. Apparently, they don’t take their own parenting responsibility very seriously, or they don’t value their children’s health as much as they should.”

Pointing to the similarities in the suicides of Brady’€™s former teammate Junior Seau and former Bears safety Dave Duerson, who shot himself in the chest in order to allow research to be conducted on his brain, Brady Sr. says he still worries about the effects football might have on his son down the road.

“Absolutely,” Brady Sr. said. “That never goes away. The answer is yes, I’m concerned. He claims that he’s only been dinged once or twice, but I don’t know how forthright he’s being. He’s not gonna tell us, as his parents, anything negative that’s going on. I wouldn’t be shocked that he would hide that.”

Ultimately however, Brady Sr. conceded he would likely now arrive at the same decision to let his son play as he did two decades ago.

“If he were 14 now, and he really wanted to play, in all likelihood I would let him,” he said. “But it would not be an easy decision, at all.”

Read More: Concussions, Junior Seau, Kurt Warner, New England Patriots
Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich recall Junior Seau’s impact on the game 05.03.12 at 4:07 pm ET
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Both Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich issued statements through the Patriots on Thursday afternoon regarding the death of former New England linebacker Junior Seau:

Mayo: ‘€œI was shocked and deeply saddened when I heard the news about Junior. I spent my first two years in the NFL with him. He was so approachable and welcoming and really worked with me to help me to adjust to life in the NFL. He was a true mentor and teammate. He had a legendary NFL career and had a passion for the game that I try to emulate. This is a sad day for me. My thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and his many friends. ‘€œ

Ninkovich: ‘€œI grew up watching Junior Seau play linebacker. He defined the position and I try to emulate my play on the field after his. It was an honor to play with an NFL legend. 2009 was my first year with the Patriots and when Junior came in, our lockers were right next to each other. As a veteran, he shared valuable advice with me and was a true teammate. I am deeply saddened by the loss and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.’€

Read More: Jerod Mayo, Junior Seau, Rob Ninkovich,
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