Seau Death Stuns NFL

  • Last Updated: May 2 2012, 23:22 BST

The NFL has been left in shock by the death of former linebacker Junior Seau at the age of 43 in an apparent suicide.

Junior Seau: Found dead at his home

The former San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots star was found dead at his home in Oceanside, California.

Speaking to reporters outside the house in an interview carried on local television station KCAL9, Oceanside police chief Ken McCoy said: "This case at this point is being investigated as a suicide. A handgun was found near the body.

"As you can see this is a very fluid situation and our investigators are continuing their investigation in this matter. Our hearts and prayers as a city go out to the Seau family."

Seau's NFL career spanned 20 years from when he was first drafted by San Diego in 1990 until he left the Patriots following the 2009 season.

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

Seau was a 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker and two-time AFC champion.

He was drafted by San Diego out of the University of Southern California in 1990 and played for the team until 2003 when he was traded to Miami.

His achievements in a Chargers uniform saw him inducted in to the team's Hall of Fame in a ceremony last year.

"I have no words to describe the passing of Junior Seau," Chargers coach Norv Turner said in a release. "It is a sad, sad day for not only me, but for the whole sports community.

"I worked with Junior here and later in Miami. I can tell you no one had more character and true leadership ability than Junior. He brought passion to the game of football that was unmatched.

"His commitment to charitable causes in the community was inspiring. It was an honour to know him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

In 2006, Seau announced his retirement, but only four days later signed for the New England Patriots where he played for another four seasons.

"We were shocked to hear of the initial reports regarding Junior Seau earlier today and are deeply saddened by the news of his death," the New England Patriots said in a release.

"We were fortunate to have had Junior join the Patriots in 2006 and are thankful for his many contributions to the team over the next four years. He had a legendary NFL career and his unrivalled passion for the game quickly made him a fan favourite here in New England.

"This is a sad day for the entire Patriots organisation, our coaches and his many Patriots team-mates. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his many friends who will mourn this loss."

In October 2010, Seau was in a car that fell 100ft down a cliff just hours after he had been arrested as part of investigation into allegations of domestic violence, but he denied there had been a suicide attempt and said instead he had fallen asleep.

Seau played in two Super Bowls, for the Chargers in 1995 and the Patriots in 2008, but lost both times.