Junior Seau Was 8th San Diego '95 Super Bowl Player to Die

VIDEO: Experts say the football player's head injuries may be linked to his death.
ABCNEWS.com

When retired NFL star Junior Seau died of a gunshot wound Wednesday at his home in Oceanside, Calif., he became the eighth untimely death of a member of the famed San Diego Chargers 1995 Super Bowl team.

"Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now," the team said in a statement. "We ask everyone to stop what they're doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family."

Seau, who played in the NFL for parts of 20 seasons, was part of the only San Diego Chargers team to ever make it to a Super Bowl. The team fell 49-26 that year to the San Francisco 49ers.

Since then, eight members of the team have died from causes ranging from heart attacks to a plane crash to a lightning strike, all before the age of 45. The tragic deaths add to the city lore of the "San Diego sports curse," in which no local teams have ever won a major league championship.

8 SD Chargers Super Bowl Team Members Have Untimely Deaths

PHOTO: Junior Seau looks on during a press conference to announce his retirement from the NFL on August 14, 2006 at the Chargers Training Camp in San Diego, California.
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Junior Seau: Suicide

A longtime linebacker in the NFL who played for the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots, Junior Seau helped the Chargers go to the Super Bowl in 1994. Seau, standing at 6-foot-3, 248 pounds, made the Pro Bowl 12 years in a row and was voted All-Pro 10 times.

On Wednesday, police announced that Seau's girlfriend found him unconscious, with a gunshot wound to the chest, in a bedroom in his Oceanside, Calif., home. San Diego Chargers Chaplain Shawn Mitchell told ABCNews.com that Seau died of a "self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest."

8 SD Chargers Super Bowl Team Members Have Untimely Deaths

PHOTO: Linebacker Lew Bush #58 of the San Diego Chargers looks on during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.
David Taylor/Allsport/Getty Images
Lew Bush: Heart Attack

Linebacker Lew Bush helped take the team to the '94 Super Bowl and then went onto to become a pre-game announcer for the Chargers broadcast team. He lived in San Diego, but died of an apparent heart attack in Tucson on December 8, 2011, just six days after his 42nd birthday.

8 SD Chargers Super Bowl Team Members Have Untimely Deaths

PHOTO: Defensive lineman Shawn Lee #98 of the San Diego Chargers looks toward the camera in this portrait picture taken during the Chargers 30-27 defeat by the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado.
Getty Images
Shawn Lee: Cardiac Arrest

The 300-plus pound Shawn Lee towered over the competition on the Chargers field, but was plagued by his size off the field. He struggled with diabetes after his football career ended, and then died of cardiac arrest during a bout with pneumonia on Feb. 26, 2011. He was 44.

In response to Lee's death, former Chargers running back Natrone Means told the San Diego Union Tribune that the deaths of his teammates were becoming "crazy."

"Not again. It's crazy, just crazy, that we've had so many guys who have fallen. I can't make any sense of it. I've given up trying. You just hope you quit getting these random messages out of nowhere that another teammate has passed away," he told the paper. "Look at Shawn. He was a big man, a man's man, no doubt about it. I can't believe he's gone, too."

8 SD Chargers Super Bowl Team Members Have Untimely Deaths

PHOTO: Defensive end Chris Mims #94 of the San Diego Chargers watches the action from the sidelines during Super Bowl XXIX against the San Francisco 49ers at Joe Robbie Stadium on January 29, 1995 in Miami, Florida.
George Rose/Getty Images
Chris Mims: Swelled Heart

A hefty defensive end during his college and pro careers, Mims ballooned to 450-plus pounds after he was cut from the Chargers in 2000 after oversleeping and missing a practice. He struggled with bankruptcy and became reclusive, according to a story in the San Diego Union Tribune. He died of a swelled heart, and was found by police on his bathroom floor Oct. 15, 2008.

8 SD Chargers Super Bowl Team Members Have Untimely Deaths

PHOTO: Center Curtis Whitley of the Carolina Panthers during their 17-10 loss to the San Fransisco 49ers at Candlestick Park in San Fransisco, California.
Otto Greule/Allsport/Getty Images
Curtis Whitley: Drug Overdose

The death of NFL center Curtis Whitley at age 39 sparked controversy over the potential damage caused to players' brains by rough football plays. Whitley, a habitual substance abuser, died of a drug overdose on May 11, 2008, but his brain showed signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) when studied by scientists following his death. The brain trauma caused symptoms including paranoia, suicidal thoughts and extreme depression, according to a lawsuit, one of many filed by NFL players' families that cites CTE as a cause of death.

8 SD Chargers Super Bowl Team Members Have Untimely Deaths

PHOTO: Atlanta Falcons Doug Miller poses for 2000 team headshot.
NFL/AP Photo
Doug Miller: Lightning Strike

Doug Miller's death is perhaps the most unlikely of all of the San Diego Chargers' deaths' from the '94 team: he was struck by lightning while camping in Colorado in July, 1998. Miller, who played for South Dakota State before joining the Chargers for the 1993 to 1995 seasons, was pursuing a masters degree in education while working as an assistant coach at the time of his death.

8 SD Chargers Super Bowl Team Members Have Untimely Deaths

PHOTO: Running back Rodney Culver #35 of the San Diego Chargers tosses a pass prior to playing against the Miami Dolphins in the 1994 AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Jack Murphy Stadium on January 8, 1994 in San Diego, California.
Kevin Terrell/Getty Images
Rodney Culver: Car Crash

Chargers running back Rodney Culver became another tragic victim of the San Diego's so-called sports curse when a plane carrying 100 passengers, including Culver and his wife, Karen, crashed into the Florida Everglades after taking off from Miami. He had played only briefly in the Super Bowl game and never touched the ball. The couple died in May, 1996, just over a year after the losing Super Bowl game, and left behind two daughters.

8 SD Chargers Super Bowl Team Members Have Untimely Deaths

PHOTO: David Griggs, center, celebrates after recovering a fumble by Pittsburgh's Barry Foster during the first quarter of the AFC Championship game, Jan. 15, 1995 in Pittsburgh.
Keith B. Srakocic/AP Photo
David Griggs, LB, 28, July 1995, automobile accident.

David Griggs, a starting linebacker during the Chargers' Super Bowl season, completed two assists during the championship game, died just months after the season ended. Police said that Griggs' speeding car slid off an expressway ramp in Florida and slammed into a sign pole. He was only 28 years old, and had just completed his first season with the Chargers after playing for five years with the Miami dolphins. He was survived by his wife and 1-year-old daughter.

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