A Tale of Two Football Players

from Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

This week the game of football lost one of its stars. At the age of 43, former San Diego Charger Junior Seau was found dead in his apartment, after an apparent suicide. Family, friends, and fans were left to pick up the pieces of a life that ended too soon, and the question on every tongue was “Why?” Why does someone who seemingly has the world in his hands choose to throw it all away? Why do we not see this coming? Why do we always assume that 19 successful years in the NFL, millions of dollars, multiple successful businesses, three beautiful children, and the adoration of  teammates and fans will somehow save a man from all his pain? Why do we call that same man “selfish” or “weak” when he ultimately decides his pain is too much and none of the good he has is worth living for?

Even if we give lip service to the truth that “money can’t buy you happiness,” I think most of us have it in the backs of our heads that somewhere there is a line you can cross, an invisible threshold that carries a person into the magical realm of “enough.” If you have $100 in your wallet, then maybe you think that line lives somewhere around $1,000. If you have $1,000,000, maybe “enough” is $2,000,000. Or maybe “enough” isn’t a number. Maybe it’s fame, glory, and screaming fans.

We’ll never know what this “enough” is because no one has ever received it from the world. Junior Seau clearly didn’t. There’s a lot of speculation surrounding this story, so I won’t pretend to know what was going through Seau’s mind in those last moments. But regardless of the causes of his depression – chemical imbalances, concussions, run-ins with the law, etc. – Seau’s fame, glory, screaming fans, and money were simply not enough. For him or for anyone else.

So what’s the answer?

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