RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Of all the stops on Bobby Ross’s coaching resume, the one he’s probably best known for was his five years with the San Diego Chargers. He took the 1994 team, with linebacker Junior Seau to the Super Bowl where they lost to the 49ers.
Coaches usually remember the losses more than the wins. But this week, Ross remembered his All-Pro middle linebacker who was the heart and soul of his Charger teams.
“A lot of fun,” Ross remembered about his years with Seau in an exclusive CBS 6 Sports interview. “But on top of that, a great person. To me, he’ll go down as one of the top five players to ever play the game.”
Seau played for 20 years in the NFL with three different teams. He was a 10-time All-Pro selection and played in 12 Pro Bowls. Ross remembered Seau as one of the most complete athletes he ever coached.
“He could have played a lot of positions,” Ross said. “After I left San Diego, I do know they used him at tight end.”
Beyond his success on the field, Ross remembered Seau as a humanitarian that he said did as much or more for the communities he played in than any other NFL player.
Ross cited Seau’s annual charity golf tournament for disadvantaged children as one example, as well as his inability to turn down fan requests for autographs, pictures or just a moment of his time.
“When we were on the road, we used to have to have our security take him down the back way (out of the stadium), ” Ross said. “He wouldn’t tell people ‘no’. He was always very available and he loved being around people.”
“He was a very positive, upbeat influence to them all,” Ross added.
While the memory of that Super Bowl team is mostly positive, there are eight members of that team who have already passed away, all before their time.
Seau’s death is the latest instance of a former NFL player coping with mental health issues after their playing days are over.
Ross doesn’t feel informed enough about such issues to comment on the tragic losses that have befallen some of his former players. He preferred to remember the last correspondence he had with Seau recently; a simple note with a heartfelt message at the end.
“He just signed his name and put ‘Love you, Coach’. That was Junior. He was a very compassionate, loving person that cared about people,” Ross said.