During three campaigns in Miami, from 2003 to 2005, Seau made a lasting impression on a locker room in search of leaders. Former Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas, hearing about Seau's death on Wednesday, hasn't forgotten what the veteran meant to him.
"I have never been around a man with more love and passion for the game of football than Junior Seau, and he lived life the same way," Thomas said in a statement, via The Miami Herald. "Junior was always fun to be around, always positive and made every person who knew him feel like he was their best friend. You never heard one negative word come out of his mouth. Junior just had this energy that followed him around wherever he went, almost like theme music. It was like he never had a bad day.
"As a young linebacker, Junior was my hero growing up and once I had the opportunity to meet him, I saw that he was everything I hoped he would be and more. Getting the chance to play along side of Junior Seau, the greatest linebacker to ever play the game, made my dreams come true. I am absolutely devastated to hear this news. Today I lost my hero, my friend, my buddy."
When Seau joined the Dolphins in 2003, Thomas himself was nearing his 30th birthday, far from a young man by NFL standards. Not too old, however, to continue to look up to one of the finest linebackers of the modern era.