Seau Is a Pro Bowl Staple

Feb 7, 2002


AP Sports Writer

HONOLULU (AP) - Junior Seau feels old, and he likes it.

The veteran outside linebacker for the San Diego Chargers is looking forwardto some rest during his 11th straight trip to the Pro Bowl - and not just onthe beach.

'The kids will be playing the game,' he said of NFL stars like 24-year-oldSuper Bowl MVP Tom Brady.

'Junior and the rest of the seniors are going to be trying to sit on thebench as much as possible and allow the kids to run out there and have theopportunity we've enjoyed for so many years.'

It's been a little strange for Seau this time around, with many unfamiliarfaces and AFC teammates who were in junior high or high school when he began inthe NFL 12 years ago.

Plenty of players he used to line up against early in his career have leftthe league.

'It's so fun to see the new generation,' said Seau, 33. 'I'm walking intothe locker room and I'm walking into meetings and I don't know 75 percent ofthe players. You know you're getting old when they're coming up to you andasking you to take a photo.

'That's definitely respectable, and obviously a great honor. I don't takethat for granted. It's special.'

His secret to the younger players is a simple one: Be consistent, work hard,come ready to compete every day.

First-time Pro Bowl lineman Alan Faneca of the Pittsburgh Steelersappreciates having a spot next to Seau in the locker room.

'His record speaks for him,' said Faneca, a 25-year-old offensive guard.'He's smart. He's the quarterback of the defense.'

Though exhausted from traveling from the Super Bowl in New Orleans to DisneyWorld in Florida, then to Boston for a victory parade and then on to Honolulu,Brady expressed excitement for his first Pro Bowl. He looks forward to playingwith Seau and others he has watched for years.

'This is his home field,' Brady said of Aloha Stadium, the site ofSaturday's game. 'He's played in more of these than anyone around.'

Seau has made it year after year despite playing for one of the worst teamsin the NFL in recent years.

The Chargers have missed the playoffs six straight seasons, thesecond-longest drought in the NFL. They won just six games the last two yearsand are 23-57 since Bobby Ross, the only coach to get them to the Super Bowl,was forced out after the 1996 season.

Seau hopes they can make a turnaround under new coach Marty Schottenheimer,hired Jan. 29 to replace fired coach Mike Riley. Seau is convinced things aremoving in a positive direction.

Schottenheimer is San Diego's fourth coach in six seasons.

'We look to get off on the right track with Marty,' Seau said. 'Marty'sgoing to be my last hope.'

For now, he will enjoy a fun finale to this season.

'You don't really shoot for it, 11 straight Pro Bowls,' Seau said. 'I'm aperson who's blessed to be part of this fraternity for 11 straight years. I'mnot going to take this one for granted. This is definitely a special one forme, due to the fact it's hard to break that two-digit mark. For the most part,I stand here humbly.'

Besides Seau, the AFC squad has two other Pro Bowl players with 10 or moreappearances. Baltimore Ravens free safety Rod Woodson is playing for the 10thtime and Bruce Matthews of the Tennessee Titans is making his 14th appearancein 19 seasons.

For the NFC, St. Louis cornerback Aeneas Williams has the most Pro Bowlexperience, playing this year for the seventh time.

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