Seau ambivalent about game against hometown team

Updated: October 28, 2003, 7:58 AM ET
ESPN

TEMPE, Ariz. -- His homecoming ruined by the wildfires in San Diego, Junior Seau had to be content with a dominant performance by the Miami Dolphins' defense.

The linebacker, a San Diego-area native and 12-time Pro Bowl selection during his 13 years with the Chargers, helped the Dolphins to a 26-10 victory Monday night in the game that was moved from San Diego to Arizona.

"That was the hardest game I've had to play, and I think that goes for everyone, the Chargers included," Seau said. "The players there did a great job by blocking things out and coming out here and performing on the field."

As the teams played in Sun Devil Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals, wildfires threatened homes -- including Seau's -- from San Diego to north of Los Angeles.

That's why NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue decided Sunday night to relocate the game, which was scheduled for Qualcomm Stadium. The move ruined Seau's plans for a big return to his hometown.

"That would be great, but Junior's happy just to have a win," coach Dave Wannstedt said.

But Seau's feelings were bittersweet from the moment the Dolphins' charter flight arrived in San Diego on Sunday. Upon landing, the acrid smell underscored the extent of the disaster.

"There was some debris in the air," Seau said. "You know, we live along the coast, and normally anything is blown away, is blown out. That was alarming."

Seau, traded to the Dolphins in April for a conditional draft choice, was credited with only four tackles, but still got a game ball.

The Dolphins' defensive unit was stellar -- Patrick Surtain had two interceptions and Zach Thomas one, San Diego's Drew Brees was sacked six times and the Chargers got one touchdown out of four possessions in the red zone.

"We're jelling," Seau said. "Obviously, you can see that. It's a positive sign."

After the game, he hugged San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

"That was great," Tomlinson said. "It's that mutual respect that we have."

"Those are my guys," Seau said. "Some of the guys I raised, some of the guys I shared a lot of years with. There's a coaching staff which I respect and an organization which I love. That's my city, that's my home, and it always will be."

Seau planned to spend Tuesday in San Diego, where he owns a restaurant not far from the stadium and oversees The Junior Seau Foundation, set up to combat juvenile delinquency, support anti-drug programs and try to keep teens in school.

The board of directors met Monday, and Seau planned to convene the board again to discuss ways to pitch in and help before catching a flight to Miami in time for practice Wednesday.

Miami halfback Ricky Williams also grew up in San Diego. He has yet to play against New Orleans, which traded him to Miami in 2002, but empathized with Seau's feelings.

"I think he wanted to show the Chargers that they made a mistake by not bringing him back," Williams said. "He's been wonderful for us. He runs around like a 22-year-old. It's great to watch."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index