Junior Seau's Farewell

(poems go here) Somewhere along the line of scrimmage
I lost my sense of self.
15,000 concussions over 45 years
Can do that to a man.
My name is Junior Seau,
And football is the only identity I've ever known.
Once upon a time,
I made my families' name synonymous
With greatness.
Nowadays their faces has been casted into a shadow of my memories.

I met my son again today.
His name was __________.
He asked me if playing in the NFL
was worth losing my sanity?
If the fans screaming my name
was the only reason I remembered who I was?
Or if I loved his mother as much as my play book,
would I still be home?

I responded by asking him for his name again.

I'm not too good with short term retention these days.
I can't tell you where I slept last night,
Or what her name was.
But she knew who I was.
And I could tell her the stories
of how I was once a gladiator
Who made quarterbacks fold like prayers.
I traded in my Sunday Best for a helmet 19 years ago.
Still, fans would praise my name like His
So I felt holy here.
As if my Hall of Fame resume could bring me closer to Father.
Or crucifying my body on the field made me more like the Son.

But the afterlife of retired NFL players is far from heavenly.

78 percent of us will be alcohol or drug addicted,
divorced,
or bankrupt
within two years of retirement
I was all three

The NFL is a world where you're judged solely on your statistics
So I've always gone above and beyond them,
Even if they were the very cause
Of my downfall

The legacy outlives the body
I wanted everyone to remember me
As immortal.
Reason why I never showcased my pain.
Never was diagnosed for concussions
I knew I had.
Played through injuries.

Persona of an Alpha male
All the while a struggling soul
Abyss to a mirror
All vodka and Ambien
Enhancers to misplaced anger

The man I am would bring the man I should be to tears.
I'm not in control
of this corpse of a vessel.
My mind isn't mine anymore.

The legacy outlives the body
But the mind is puppet master
What's a legacy if you can't even live and remember it happened?

The rate of suicide among retired NFL players
is 6 times the national average.
But for many of us,
we're dead long before we pull the trigger.
When we put our helmets and pads down for good
Living loses its purpose.
But when my mind tells me to forget my purpose ever existed
I become an empty casing of the man I thought I was.

When you find this farewell,
It will already be too late
I just ask you to fulfill my last request:
Donate my brain to the NFL's study
Make sure no one ever has to suffer what I have.

When the spotlights finally fade,
And the #55 jerseys are retired for good,
I pray my legacy as a man
Isn't tarnished by the remnants of a superstar.

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