The sports world reacts to Junior Seau's death

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The sports world reacts to Junior Seau's death

When the news of Junior Seau's apparent suicide hit on Wednesday, it was undoubtedly a shock to all. Maybe Seau didn't know it, but he had a countless number of people in his corner -- lives he's touched before, during, and after his 20-year prolific NFL career.

People from all over the sports world reflected on the loss of someone they consider near and dear to their heart.

Robert Kraft, Patriots chairman and CEO

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 Seaus 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.

Deion Branch, WR New England Patriots

I wanted to send my thoughts and prayers to the family of Junior Seau. Junior was also a member of the New England Patriots family and he will be greatly missed. He was an inspiration both on and off the football field.

Dean Spanos, Chargers president

"I can't put into words how I'm feeling right now. I'm shocked and devastated," Spanos said in a statement. "Junior was my friend. We all lost a friend today. Junior was an icon in our community.

"He transcended the game. He wasn't just a football player, he was so much more. He was loved by everyone in our family, our organization and throughout the NFL."

Jason Taylor, retired Miami Dolphins linebacker

Im shocked and saddened. Devastated, really. Junior was one of the most positive, uplifting people I have ever known. He was always full of life and energy and had an infectious spirit that lifted everyone around him. Junior called everyone buddy and treated them like he had known them forever. It would be easy for me to say he was a great friend and teammates, and a tremendous competitor, but that would be selling Junior short. Junior Seau was an individual of great honor and integrity, a leader of men and someone with a deep-rooted passion for giving of himself to make the people, the community and especially the children around him better. This is an immeasurable loss for so many. My heart and prayers go out to Juniors family, Gina and their children. Im going to miss you buddy.

Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner

All of us are deeply saddened about Junior Seau, a great player loved by teammates who also worked hard to serve his community. Junior and his family will remain in our thoughts.

DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA president

The NFL Players Association is saddened to hear of the passing of Junior Seau, a terrific player and teammate. The 12-time Pro Bowler achieved a level of success on the field that is unparalleled and his off-the-field service accomplishments are beyond admirable. The All-Decade Team linebackers career spanned an incredible 20 seasons, and Junior Seaus determination and passion for the game will always be remembered in the hearts and minds of the fans. The NFLPA player family joins with the Seau family to mourn a brother lost too soon.

Dave Roberts, former San Diego Padres and Red Sox outfielder, current Padres first base coach

"I'm extremely saddened. He impacted so many people in such a positive way. For me to be able to call him a friend, it was special to me.

"Obviously, I don't know all the details. I just know he's not with us right now. It's a huge loss. It's a huge loss."

"We grew up in the same area, became friends and have a lot of mutual friends," said Roberts. "That's how we forged our relationship."

Bud Black, Padres manager

"The name Junior Seau was synonymous with San Diego, along with Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield, all the greats," said Black. "To have this happen ... disbelief."

Doug Flutie, former Chargers and Patriots (and BC) Quarterback, via Twitter

Junior Seau was one of the most inspirational people I have ever met. He was a great leader, teammate, and friend. He will be missed.

Jim Harbaugh, 49ers head coach

I, along with the entire NFL family, the San Diego community and those who shared a life with Junior, grieve the loss of the ultimate teammate and friend. I am saddened that I was not there for Junior as he had always been for his teammates and friends.

The qualities I most respected in Junior were the caring and respect he showed to all those with whom he came in contact. One of my fondest remembrances as a professional football player was looking across the locker room after playing my last career game with the Chargers and knowing that I had shared that moment with one of the greatest teammates and competitors the game has ever known. The moment moved me to get off my stool, approach Junior and ask him to trade jerseys. Its the only time I had done that in my career.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Juniors family.

Drew Brees, QB New Orleans Saints, via Twitter

"So sad to hear about Jr Seau. Junebug. Buddy, The greatest teammate a young guy could ask for. This is a sad day. He will be missed greatly.

Oakland Raiders

We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Junior Seau. Juniors great passion, intensity and love for the game were evident every time he stepped on the football field. He was a formidable competitor who left an indelible mark on the game of football. We extend our most sincere condolences to his family and the Charger organization.

The USC family reacts to the news:

Pat Haden, Athletic Director

We are tremendously saddened to hear this news and our hearts go out to his family and children. Junior Seau was one of the greatest legends in USC football history. He will always be remembered by USC as the original No. 55.

Lane Kiffin, Head Coach

This is a very sad day. The USC football program and the entire Trojan Family extends our condolences to Juniors family. He was one of the greatest Trojans of all-time. Our team and fans were very fortunate to see him just a couple of weeks ago at our Spring Game at the Coliseum. He will be deeply missed.

Current and former USC Trojans also reacted to the news.

Antonio Brown posts questionable locker room video after Steelers win

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Antonio Brown posts questionable locker room video after Steelers win

Showing a knee-buckling lack of self-awareness, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown put up 13:35 of footage on Facebook Live after his team’s 18-16 win over Kansas City on Sunday night.

It was a weird betrayal of the team’s privacy by one of its star players. Brown, allowed viewers to see live (and on tape until it’s inevitably taken down) that, while head coach Mike Tomlin was around a bank of lockers addressing what Tomlin presumed was his entire team, Brown was mugging in front of his phone for a growing online audience.

The video starts with Brown and teammates having fun in front of their lockers. As the team is called together for a postgame prayer, Brown keeps the camera rolling. After the prayer, Tomlin made a statement.

“When you get to this point in the journey, not a lot needs to be said,” said Tomlin. “Let’s say very little moving forward. Let’s start our preparations. We spotted those a******* a day and a half. They played yesterday. Our game got moved to tonight. We gonna touch down at 4 o’clock in the f****** morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for that ass. But you ain’t gotta tell them we coming. Because some of us might not like the damn (woofkisses?) The chest pounding.  Keep a low profile.”

While Tomlin was issuing that low-profile request, Brown rolled on. Another Steeler then spoke up saying, “Keep cool on social media, this is about us, nobody else.”

Finally, what sounded like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger addressed the team saying of Foxboro, “That’s a lion’s den we’re going into this week. It’s a lion’s den. I’ve been there, a lot of us have been there. Keep your mouth shut.”

While people might fan themselves over Tomlin calling the Patriots a*******, that’s benign and likely will be matched in private by Patriots coaches this week.

What’s staggering is that a player of Brown’s ability and seeming intelligence would be so self-absorbed as to be agog at putting on a video show for Facebook followers at the expense of his coaches, teammates and franchise.  

Steelers survive, advance to visit Patriots despite red-zone woes

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Steelers survive, advance to visit Patriots despite red-zone woes

For the third time in the Belichick-Brady Era, the Patriots will be trying to step over the Steelers to get to a Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh went into Kansas City on Sunday night and outlasted a breathtakingly sluggish Chiefs team 18-16.

If you spent the day stewing about the Patriots adequate-against-Osweiler-but-probably-nobody-else offensive performance Saturday night, maybe Sunday night calmed your nerves.

Despite having a more than 2-to-1 edge in total yards entering the fourth, Pittsburgh had managed just six field goals from kicker Chris Boswell. Their best chance at getting six on the board was squelched when Ben Roethlisberger got picked at the goal line in the first half.

That Kansas City was even in the game with a chance to tie it in the final three minutes has to be humbling for the Steelers. They dominated every statistical category of consequence while the Chiefs played aimlessly behind Alex Smith, who may be a cut above Brock Osweiler but is definitely a cut below every other quarterback in the Divisional Playoff round.  

On this night, Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t much better.

Still, Pittsburgh’s got the best 1-2 punch in the NFL at running back and receiver – LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown were both at 101 yards after halftime – and New England’s entire defensive game plan will revolve around corralling those two and getting them horizontal.

The Patriots beat a Roethlisberger-less team in October, 27-16. Landry Jones was at quarterback that day.

The Steelers were in the Patriots’ red zone four times. They came away with 10 points. They were inside the Patriots’ 40 six times and finished with 16.

“In an offense like that with a bunch of very explosive players, one slant can turn into a touchdown so you have to be really careful in your coverages,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich told me after that game. "There’s not just one go-to guy. They got a running back that can catch it out of the backfield and make plays (Le’Veon Bell). [Antonio Brown] can catch it anywhere on the field and make plays. You just have to make sure with a guy like [Landry Jones] to have him make the throws. It’s hard in this league to be perfect. So to have him sit back there and try to make all the throws was what we chose and the secondary did a great job.”

Bell and Brown combined for 268 yards from scrimmage against the Patriots.

The Steelers scored one touchdown.

The ever-dawdling Bell, who practically walks to the line of scrimmage then skips around like a little kid with a full bladder before finding a crease to exploit, is where it will start for the Patriots.

If the Patriots are going to go to their seventh Super Bowl since Belichick’s hire, Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Donta Hightower and Elandon Roberts – their two best interior linemen and their two inside linebackers – will be the ones who start the bus. The overwhelming majority of Bell’s runs are between the guards so building a wall and out-patienting him as he probes for a crease is Job One.

The Chiefs weren’t stout enough at the line of scrimmage and Bell brutalized them. It will, of course, fall to more than just those four. Trey Flowers, Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, Vincent Valentine and Shea McLellin will also be in focus. Run-support from safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty will be a part of it as well, but that’s where the Steelers become tough to deal with.

Once Bell’s established himself, the Steelers can start to work play-action and get Brown into space. Creep too far and the numbers on the back end could wind up being insufficient to deal with one of the NFL’s fastest players.

That’s why you can expect the Patriots to not overexert themselves with pressures and blitzes against Ben Roethlisberger. They’ll want as many back in coverage as possible to deal with Brown and some of the other Steelers speed merchants.

The Patriots have dealt with Pittsburgh’s defense enough to know where to attack. LeGarrette Blount ran for 127 yards on 24 carries in the first meeting and

Tom Brady went 19 for 26 for 222 with two touchdowns.

The Patriots had Gronk that day and the Steelers didn’t have Roethlisberger. That tips the scales some when measuring the differences. But after watching Pittsburgh kick six field goals and keep afloat an underperforming Chiefs team, the issue that dogged them in October – red zone offense – looks like its still around.

And they are going to visit a team that does that led the NFL in preventing points.