Even after 11 years, Seau's hits—like the one he put on Raiders fullback Jon Ritchie in Week 1—are something to behold. "I jumped to catch the ball, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Junior coming," Ritchie recalls. "His helmet came full force under my jaw, and he hit me like I've never been hit. I couldn't hear anything out of my left ear for a week. I was deaf. And my jaw was so sore, I couldn't eat right."
On Sunday in Buffalo, dragging his gimpy leg behind him ("my broke hamstring," Seau calls it), he put on a clinic. Running from sideline to sideline, he had a game-high 12 tackles. With the Chargers ahead 24-21 and 16 seconds left, he stepped in front of a pass intended for Bills wideout Peerless Price at the San Diego five. Seau was in position to make the interception, but Price stuck his hand in at the last second. Steve Christie kicked a field goal on the next play, then won the game with a 46-yarder in overtime.
Fifteen minutes after the game the 31-year-old Seau sat in the trainers' room with a bottle of Gatorade in his left hand, an ice pack taped to his left hammy and thoughts running through his head about what might have been. "I've already replayed that interception in my mind 30 times," he said, his eyes burning a hole in the floor. "I'll replay it all the way back home. And there will be no sleep for me tonight. Do you know how close we were?"
When Buffalo receivers coach Charlie Joiner, a former Charger, found his way into the room, Seau's respect for the game and for the players who came before him shone through. The two chatted for awhile about the game and old times, and as Joiner prepared to leave, the air got thick. "Get well, man. I love you," Joiner said, enveloping Seau in his arms.
"I love you," Seau replied, returning the hug.
After Joiner had left, Seau looked ahead, then back down at the floor. "That's what the game's all about," he said, adjusting the ice pack. "The corporate game, the media game, I know that's a game we have to play. But you know what this game's all about? Respect. The respect you can earn only between those white lines."
Seau got so choked up he had to stop. Finally, he sighed and said, "The game is still hitting. It's still blocking. It's still...it's still about courage."
There was another long pause. "That's why," Seau said, his eyes still fixed on the floor, "I can't wait till next Sunday."
Ravens' Touchdown Drought
Banks Struggles To Find Game
If you had to pick one play from Baltimore's 10-3 loss to Washington to illustrate the increasingly dreadful performance of Ravens quarterback Tony Banks, the obvious choice would be the interception that Banks threw on first-and-goal from the Redskins' one-yard line moments before halftime. It was a momentum-killer that cost the Ravens a chance to take the lead and their best opportunity to end a touchdown drought that now stretches 186 minutes and 39 seconds, or three-plus games.