After a mini-controversy unfurled when news broke that Junior Seau's daughter, Sydney, would not be permitted to speak on behalf of her late father at his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton has announced Sydney will be able to participate in the ceremony. She will not, however, be permitted to give an acceptance speech on his behalf.
It was initially believed that the Hall of Fame was preemptively keeping the Seau family from speaking out about CTE and football. In 2012 at the age of 43, Seau, like Dave Duerson before him, shot himself in the chest to allow researchers to study his brain for evidence of CTE. Researchers did find evidence and his family has since sued the NFL. As it turns out, the Hall of Fame has a hard rule for posthumous inductions and does not permit anything more than a video presentation containing a speech given by the inductee's presenter. On its face, it sounds like the rule is one concerned with streamlining the ceremony. While certainly admirable, this is a Hall of Fame induction, when else are people supposed to wax poetic on end about glory and football?
In somewhat of a compromise, the Hall of Fame will let Sydney participate in a Q&A session as well as portions of the video presentation.
Sydney will be given the chance to participate in an on-stage interview conducted after the unveiling of Seau's bust. The Hall also has invited Sydney and Seau's three sons to unveil his bust on stage. Normally, the unveiling is only done by the presenter and enshrinee. The Hall will continue to uphold its rule calling for only a video presentation of a posthumous inductee that includes the presenter's speech. However, the Hall has taped a 6 1/2-minute highlight video of Seau's 20-year NFL career that includes comments from Sydney. The normal highlight video lasts three minutes.
Why the Hall of Fame has seemingly relented on some of their rules—6 1/2 minutes instead of three! Unveiling the bust!—but still refused to let Sydney give a simple acceptance speech seems curious. She will also be participating in the "Gold Jacket Ceremony" on Thursday and will be speaking on NFL Network which, again, seems nice, but these are an awful lot of random concessions to make to ensure that a Posthumous Induction policy that is only five years old remains intact.
Hall of Fame president Dave Baker told Fox Sports that the "goal was to try and keep our policy but also show some compassion and understanding."