By Clarence E. Hill Jr.
The subject of Junior Seau’s shocking suicide and the transition to life after football came up during a recent interview with Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith to promote The Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational Golf Tournament, May 11-12 at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney.
The event will feature a reunion of the Cowboys 1992 Super Bowl Championship team _ which only makes the Seau situation hit closer to home.
Smith is not only the league’s all-time leading rusher but he also has more carries than anyone in NFL history. He is fine now and looks like he can still play the game. But he admits he worries about if the hits he took will take a toll on him mentally and physically one day.
“Why wouldn’t I worry,” Smith said. “The evidence is starting to pile up. You are talking to a guy who carried the ball more than anybody in NFL history. So why wouldn’t I worry. I pray about it.”
Smith said he doesn’t know exactly what happened with Seau but it’s personal for him because the two were rookies together in 1990 and his first game was against Seau and the Chargers at Texas Stadium.
“I don’t know all the details around his death which outside of the suicide speculation which I guess is a good assessment,” Smith said. “What you don’t know is what Junior was going through. You never know what another person is going through a lot of people on twitter and elsewhere want to know how a make that that much be depressed and commit suicide.”
Smith said it frustrates him when people think that athletes or celebrities shouldn’t have problems because they supposedly have money. He says no one knows what people or dealing with inside.
“It’s never about the money,” Smith said. “It’s about the individual person. Whether that person has fulfillment in life and can find a way to have joy and peace in their life. If you don’t have those things and don’t have a sense of self worth in left, depression can set in and lead to other things. It’s just a sad situation. I don’t look at it lightly. I don’t know if it was head trauma or not. The only way I see it now is where junior was at today mentally players may not identify with cause they are in the now. He was in the yesterday. They have to realize his yesterday is their tomorrow. Just going through life itself and through the transitions of leaving a sport we all played for a number of years. Some times when that light goes out its hard to find another light that fuels you.”
Smith said he is very excited to see his former teammates from 1992, many whom he hasn’t seen in years _ which again brings the Seau situation close to home.
Fans certainly don’t understand the difficult transition players have to life after football.
“It’s only so much golf you can you play,” Smith said. “Only so many vacations you can take. Plus you are retiring at 35, for me. For some others it may be sooner. You have to find something else to motivate you to inspire you to get up every day to find a sense o self worth. At the end of the day it’s about personal choice and it’s about finding your way through life. That’s not an easy thing to do for people who have been to the top so to speak in one area and then find themselves in a life in valley afterwards.”