A woman who worked for former San Diego Chargers star Junior Seau told 10News she feels the local icon's retirement from football may have been too much to overcome.
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Donna Moultrie was Seau's personal driver from 2008 to 2009 as the linebacker was finishing his NFL career with the New England Patriots. She said the two of them bonded and talked openly about life and football.
"We got to share just who we are as people," said Moultrie, who used to work as a marriage counselor in Colorado.
"When I stepped into the role as the chauffeur, he used to joke, 'Not only do I have a private chauffeur. I have my private therapist," Moultrie added.
She told 10News the news of Seau's death devastated her, but she said she may know one reason why Seau took his own life -- the transition out of the NFL limelight was too much.
"I mean, the struggle of ending something he was so passionate about was really difficult for him," Moultrie said. "He really wanted to be that man. He wanted to be that family man. He wanted to be that regular guy, with also being Junior, Mr. San Diego."
Years earlier, Seau himself spoke on the "Jeff and Jer Show" about his identity after retirement.
In the 2006 interview, Seau said, "When players do leave the league, they lose touch with who they truly are. When they leave the locker room, they're out there in the world where they kind of detach themselves."
"In the world of the National Football League and entertainment and being in the spotlight, a lot of people lose themselves in terms of who they are," Seau also said in the interview. "Every day is a work in progress; to be a better person, obviously to be a better father."
Moultrie fears Seau detached himself because he couldn't find a balance between the superstar many knew and the father and private man most of the public did not know.
"Gosh, if we just had one more second with him. Could we have stepped in and stopped that decision? It's just, it's such a tragedy. I will truly miss him as a person," Moultrie said.
Former San Diego Padres pitcher and current TV analyst Mark Grant said the transition from active player to retired player is something most professional athletes, such as himself, deal with.
"The tough part was walking away from the competition," said Grant.
Grant wouldn't speculate on what Seau was specifically dealing with but he did say, "It's really different for everybody, how they adjust from the professional life on the field to the professional life in everyday life."
The NFL offers care for its players in retirement. It includes emotional support. No one knows if Junior Seau took advantage of these program. However, former Charger Aaron Taylor told 10News that within 12 months of retirement, 75% of retired players will either be bankrupt, divorced, or abusing drugs or alcohol.
Moultrie said she thinks the NFL should do more for players upon retirement to make sure they can adjust to everyday life off the field.
"It's such a huge transition, such a huge identity shift. I think that he maybe didn't have those people in his life after the NFL to help him transition to the next," Moultrie said.
The NFL does have programs that offer assistance for its players in retirement, but former San Diego State Aztec and current Buffalo Bill Kirk Morrison said players rarely take advantage of them.
No one knows if Seau took advantage of the available resources from the league.
Former Charger Aaron Taylor told 10News that within 12 months of retirement, 75 percent of retired players will either be bankrupt, divorced or abusing drugs or alcohol.
"Some people have a difficult time doing it because that's all they know," said Grant.
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