NFL

NFL AM: Hall of Fame Refuses Speech for Junior Seau

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No Speech for Sydney

Junior Seau’s daughter, Sydney, has been informed she will not be allowed to speak during her father’s posthumous induction into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 8. The Pro Football Hall of Fame released a statement on Friday saying the decision is consistent with its policy regarding deceased players.

“The policy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 2010 regarding individuals enshrined posthumously provides for an expanded presenting video (longer than the videos of living inductees) followed by the traditional unveiling of the bronzed bust and no additional comments made from the podium,” the statement said.

“This policy is not precedent setting and was implemented for the first time in 2011 when former Los Angeles Rams great Les Richter was inducted posthumously.”

No speech for Seau and mention of Los Angeles? Talk about a punch to the stomach for Chargers fans.

The Hall of Fame may cite precedent, even one less than five years old, but this reeks more of censorship. Seau’s family is suing the NFL after his autopsy revealed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease caused by frequent head trauma that has been found in the brains of dozens of deceased NFL players.

The lawsuit alleges the NFL hid the effects of football-related head trauma for years.

Seau’s daughter insists her speech was to focus solely on her father and not on CTE or any related issues.

“It’s frustrating because the induction is for my father and for the other players, but then to not be able to speak, it’s painful,” Sydney Seau told The New York Times. “I just want to give the speech he would have given. It wasn’t going to be about this mess. My speech was solely about him.”

Other than perhaps LaDainian Tomlinson, Seau is the most decorated player in Chargers history. He led the franchise to its only Super Bowl appearance following the 1994 season and was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 2011. Over the course of his 20-year career with the Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots, he racked up 1,522 tackles, 56.5 sacks and 18 interceptions.

Being inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside Seau will be Jerome Bettis, Will Shields, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Mick Tingelhoff and former general managers Bill Polian and Ron Wolf.

Two More Suspensions in AFC West

While the football universe awaits a decision on the appeal of Tom Brady’s suspension, Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to hand out suspensions like coupons on the Vegas Strip. The latest players to get popped were Broncos DE Derek Wolfe, who was given a four-game suspension for PEDs, and Chiefs CB Sean Smith, who was given a three-game suspension after pleading guilty to a DUI charge in April.

Wolfe started all 16 games for the Broncos last season, although his play continued to regress from his promising rookie season in 2012. The former first-round pick will be sorely missed in games against the Ravens, Chiefs, Lions and Vikings, as Denver will now be charged with stopping the likes of Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson without him.

“During the offseason I took a medication which is on the banned substance list,” Wolfe said in the statement released by the team. “The medication is not a substance which would enhance my on-field performance in any way and I genuinely was unaware that it was prohibited, but players are responsible for what is in their bodies.

“I will certainly exercise far greater caution in the future and will seek advice relating to the permissibility of any and all medications.”

Smith’s suspension was expected, although the team hoped it would be just two games. The league opted to tack on a third game because of the property damage caused by Smith when his vehicle hit and broke a light pole.

Smith’s absence will be felt as Kansas City deals with some difficult matchups during his suspension, including contests against Peyton Manning in Week 2 and Aaron Rodgers in Week 3.

This means the top-three teams in the AFC West will be dealing with significant suspensions to start the season, as Chargers TE Antonio Gates has already been suspended for four games after testing positive for PEDs.

In other suspension news, Vikings CB Jabari Price was suspended for two games on Friday. His ban stems from being arrested for a DWI back in December, although he later pled guilty to a reduced charge of careless driving.

Transactions Page

–The Saints are planning to release DE Junior Galette, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. The team has lost patience with its best pass rusher following domestic violence allegations and disparaging remarks made about head coach Sean Payton to The Times-Picayune. Galette and TE Jimmy Graham both signed massive contract extensions with the Saints last year; one season later, they will both be playing for different teams. For more on Galette, check out this feature from our Charlie Bernstein: Saints Take Stand, Release Galette

–The Cardinals have finally addressed their need at tight end, agreeing to terms with former Bengals starter Jermaine Gresham. A two-time Pro Bowler, Gresham immediately becomes the most accomplished pass-catching tight end on Arizona’s roster. He also has some familiarity with QB Carson Palmer, as the two played together in Cincinnati back in 2010. Gresham had drawn interest from the Packers, Raiders and Bengals at various points this offseason. He is still recovering from offseason back surgery but should be healthy in time to start the season. His signing likely ends Arizona’s pursuit of TE Chris Cooley, who is considering coming out of retirement after being out of the game for the last two years.

–With training camp right around the corner, the Dolphins decided to make an early cut and part ways with QB Josh freeman. A first-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2009, Freeman’s career has plummeted with frightening speed. Over the last three years he has spent brief stints with the Vikings, Giants and Dolphins. But he will be remembered best for his time in Tampa Bay, where he once proudly wore the franchise QB label. In 2010, he threw 25 touchdowns against just six interceptions. Two years later, he eclipsed the 4,000-yard barrier for the first time. Now, that once promising career is on the verge of being extinguished for the third time in as many seasons.

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About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has spent more than 10 years as a team expert at Scout.com, primarily covering the Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. He has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and other venues.