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Junior Seau's daughter, Sydney, gets to the heart of the matter

Junior Seau's daughter, Sydney, gets to the heart of the matter
Children of former NFL player Junior Seau -- Sydney, left, Hunter, Jake, and Tyler -- unveil the bust of their late father during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday in Canton, Ohio. (Tom E. Puskar / Associated Press)

We don't know what we missed by his not being here.

But the moment in which Junior Seau was welcomed into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was stunning and silent and sensational, as Sydney Seau owned Saturday night's enshrinement ceremony every bit as much as her father would have.

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After a video tribute, Junior Seau's four children lifted a golden cloth that had shrouded his bronze bust, and daughter Sydney addressed the crowd from the back of the stage inside Tom Benson Stadium.

Not allowed by Hall policy to officially speak in his place, Sydney answered an interviewer's question about what her father would say by ostensibly delivering her own brief speech.

“Dad, you gave us your time, your presence, your love, but most of all, you gave us your heart,” she said. “I know at times it seemed as if everything you accomplished in your life wasn't enough, but today and every day since the first time you held me in your arms, you were more than just enough. You were everything.

“I hope this induction can exemplify the fact that you are more than just Junior Seau, Number 55 and a buddy. You are a light, and I want nothing more than to see you come on stage, give the speech you were meant to give, give me a hug and tell me you love me one last time, but that isn't our reality.

“I know that his athleticism and talent made him extraordinary enough to make it into the Hall, but it is his passion and heart that make him truly legendary and deserving of this tremendous honor.”

She concluded with this, bringing the crowd to its feet for the second time in minutes: “Dad, I love you, and I miss you. Congratulations, you made it.”

Throughout her remarks, even as she halted a couple of times and apologized for being emotional, Sydney radiated with a smile and charisma to rival her father's.

Outside the inaugural class, Seau is the first player to be voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility to not be alive for his enshrinement — a sad distinction brought about by his suicide on May 2, 2012.

It was the sentiment of so many that what made it so difficult to not have Seau present was the knowledge of how excited he would have been to be here, among so many of the other 294 immortals.

He would have punched the air, throwing his whole weight into the effort, as he did after countless big plays during a 20-year career.

Sydney Seau provided a tribute befitting a great Charger, now officially and forever among the greatest to ever play.

“My father would be completely overwhelmed and honored to be inducted into a class with the most elite athletes and professionals,” she said. “I know this isn't my speech to give, it's his. He deserved this moment. All I can do to humbly attempt to thank the people who were most important in his life.”

She said it the way she knew her father would, by thanking his parents, referring to them as “Nana and Papa.”

Said Sydney: “They were everything to him. I know for a fact he would say this honor is also yours.”

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She choked her words a few times, but never stopped smiling as she acknowledged her father's hometown of Oceanside, his Polynesian heritage and San Diego.

“I know he would thank the team, teammates, fans, the community of San Diego for the career of lifetime,” she said. “You guys were everything.”

Before the 6 1/2-minute tribute video was shown, master of ceremonies Chris Berman struck a somber tone for the first time in the 21/2-hour ceremony.

“We all miss, all of us, miss Junior Seau,” Berman said.

He then asked the crowd of 21,000-plus to observe a moment of silence in his memory.

Owner Dean Spanos, who was among a large contingent from the Chargers in the crowd, recalled in the video the 1994 season opener, in which Seau took the ball from John Elway to secure a victory over the Denver Broncos. As the play was shown on the screens, with Seau spiking the ball at midfield, Spanos said, "It was one of those great plays you'll never forget."

In the video, Sydney recalled bringing her dad to kindergarten show and tell and her shock that other kids and adults asked for his autograph and thought he was a big deal.

"That's when it kind of clicked he was more than just my dad," she said.

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