Robert Kraft only employed Junior Seau for the better part of four seasons, but that was long enough to feel develop a relationship with the Hall of Fame bound linebacker and feel the impact Seau had on those around him. Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, brought the dynamic linebacker in for the last four seasons of his career, playing in 38 games between 2006 and 2009 and is remembering him as a guy who came into the locker room and immediately became a presence as a leader.
Kraft, in the following interview, also shares a story about a letter from Seau that brought him to tears in the weeks following the death of Kraft’s wife, Myra, last summer. It’s certainly another sign of just how many people Seau touched throughout the entire NFL.
Robert Kraft joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Darren Smith to discuss the passing of Junior Seau, the letter he received from him following the death of his wife, delivering to him an AFC Championship ring, Seau’s effect on the Patriots locker room and his ability to have such a large effect on people from a smaller, west-coast market.
Reflecting on the death of Junior Seau:
“Junior was a very, very special young man. I’ve seen a lot of people come through this locker room, but he was truly special — as a motivator, a quality individual. I know we only had him for part of four seasons. We always knew he was a Charger; he was part of the Charger family. We were, at best, first or second cousins, but we had a great attachment to him.”
On Seau getting in touch with him following the death of Kraft’s wife Myra:
“I had a deep loss of my wife at the end of July and he wrote me a letter within a couple weeks speaking about my wife and the impression she made on him. And he sent me the letter and it actually brought me to tears. And he made a very generous contribution to the Boys and Girls Club, to a fund we established in her honor. He was just a short-time visitor here, but that was the kind of guy he was. Boy, when he hugged or squeezed you, nothing like that ever happened. I used to hear him speak in the locker room and sometimes in team meetings. There was no one who was a more motivational speaker.”
What was it like to deliver the AFC Championship ring to Junior?:
“What we did is he wasn’t on the team at the beginning of that year in 2008. We came out to play the Chargers and we told him that we wanted to present him with his Super Bowl championship ring, well, the AFC Championship part of it from ’07. He suggested we do it at Seau’s, which we were happy to do. I came out there. Of course, most of the restaurant was Charger fans, but there were a lot of Patriots fans there that day. What was interesting to me is how no one was a Charger or a Patriot fan, they were all Junior Seau fans. … Special players have that ability to be magnets for bringing people of different backgrounds together. Junior was certainly one of those people.”
What kind of effect did he have on the Patriots locker room when he first came in?:
“He’d call you ‘Buddy’ and he could speak and hug and squeeze like no one I know. He was just a rare, rare human being. It’s just sad — very, very sad. Our sorrow and regrets go to all the great fans out there in San Diego. We do have a good competitive spirit. You guys always come up with a great team and we have a great rivalry.”
On Seau’s national impact despite playing for a team on the west coast and not in the biggest of markets:
“I think that’s a function, too, of just the sort of special guy he was. Wherever he would go, people would take notice. There’s an aura of greatness, just sort of a halo that surrounded this guy. Boy did we feel lucky to have him for the short time we did. You know, you remember, I guess he always said he graduated. He never retired, it was just another time in his life when he went to Miami and came to us. We had no idea, at the time, that a month later or what have you, he would be back with us. He graduated to another year.”
How did you pull that off to get him back?:
“I think he really wanted to close out his career with a ring. We’re just sorry we weren’t able to help him do it. We came close, but this is black and white, you either close with one or you don’t. And that’s unfortunate. He was just driven to try to get a championship ring.”