FOXBOROUGH (AP) - The New England Patriots say they are "deeply saddened" by the death of linebacker Junior Seau, who spent parts of the last four of his 20 NFL seasons with them.
Seau, 43, was found shot to death at his Oceanside, Calif., home Wednesday in what police said appeared to be suicide.
The Patriots said Seau's "unrivaled passion for the game quickly made him a fan favorite here in New England."
Seau spent most of his career with San Diego and also played for Miami. He came out of retirement to play 2006-2009 for New England.
He was with the Patriots when they ended their quest for a perfect 2007 season with a Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. He had 76 tackles (55 solo) and 3.5 sacks, and a career-high three interceptions that season.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady posted on Facebook that, "Junior Seau
was a great teammate and even better friend. His legacy will live on and
the memories of his time here with us will never be forgotten. We love
Patriots owner Bob Kraft released the following statement on Seau's death:
"Every day, Junior Seau greeted his teammates and coaches with an
energetic 'Hey, Buddy!' It was genuine, enthusiastic and backed by his
radiant smile. For four seasons, after every game he played, he would
always find me in the locker room just to give me a big hug and squeeze
tighter than anyone I remember. It was one of the many things I enjoyed
about him. He was passionate about football and always spoke with great
conviction. He may have been one of the most charismatic Patriots player
in franchise history. I loved listening to him when he addressed an
audience. I will never forget presenting him with his AFC Championship
ring at Seau's Restaurant in San Diego before our game against the
Chargers in 2008. It was a memorable moment shared by both Patriots and
Chargers fans, who that day celebrated pregame together as Junior Seau
fans. He was beloved in his hometown of San Diego and quickly became a
fan favorite in New England. Today, the fans of the teams for which
Junior played - San Diego, Miami and New England - lost more than a
legendary football player. We lost our 'Buddy.' My thoughts and prayers
are with his family and I extend my sincere condolences to his many
friends and former teammates."