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Seau ends four-day retirement, joins Patriots

The way Junior Seau looks at it, he's now in graduate school.

Seau returned to the NFL on Friday after a four-day retirement,
trading surfing in San Diego for a one-year contract with the New
England Patriots that the 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker hopes will
pay off with a long-sought Super Bowl ring.

"I'm going after my master's now," the jet-lagged Seau said in
a conference call.

That was a reference to his lavish retirement ceremony Monday at
the San Diego Chargers' headquarters when he said: "I'm not
retiring. I am graduating."

The 37-year-old Seau said then that no teams wanted or needed
him. But he didn't rule out coming back if the right situation came
up.

Seau said the Patriots called on Tuesday. New England needed
another linebacker because Tedy Bruschi has a broken wrist,
although he's been out since July 31. Chad Brown and Monte Beisel
also are hurt, and Willie McGinest, a mainstay of the Patriots'
three Super Bowl titles in four seasons, signed with the Cleveland
Browns as a free agent.

"When a championship team calls, you've definitely got to
answer the call and definitely look into it," Seau said. "That's
what I did.

"Obviously we understand where their focus is, to win
championships," Seau said. "That's something that I'm missing in
my career. I just felt it was an opportunity I needed to seize."

Seau made it to the Super Bowl in his fifth season, but the
Chargers were humiliated by the San Francisco 49ers, 49-26. San
Diego limped into the playoffs in 1995 before losing at home to
Indianapolis in a wild-card game.

Seau hasn't been back to the postseason since.

He will be reunited with safety Rodney Harrison, his teammate
for nine seasons in San Diego. The Chargers dumped Harrison after
the 2002 season. He signed with New England and promptly won two
Super Bowl rings.

"Rodney lobbed a couple of calls," Seau said. "He'll probably
get a finder's fee."

Seau wasn't sure what role he'll have under coach Bill
Belichick. But he's played both inside and outside linebacker, and
he said he didn't go to New England to have a limited role.

"Wherever I fit is obviously going to be to their liking and
mine," he said.

Last season at Miami, Seau played for Nick Saban, a Belichick
protege.

"I've been through 16 years of this," Seau said. "I went
through Nick Saban's playbook. There's some similarities. There's
going to be some wrinkles and a learning curve. There's nothing
that I won't be able to grasp."

Seau was asked about the prospects of the Chargers and Patriots
meeting in the playoffs.

"I think that would be a delight for both Rodney and I," he
said. "It would make for a great story, anyway.

"It was definitely a homecoming when I saw Rodney," Seau said.
"Honestly there was a hug and some joyful cheers when we met. We
have a lot of respect for each other. We've definitely seen each
other grown up."

New England lost to Denver in the divisional playoffs last
season.

The Chargers traded Seau to the Miami Dolphins in April 2003 for
a fifth-round draft choice. In his first year with Miami, he
started 15 games and finished second on the team with 133 tackles.
But injuries cut short his last two seasons.

"Obviously leaving the last two years with injuries was not
satisfying," he said.

Seau grew up in suburban San Diego and starred at Southern
California before the Chargers took him fifth overall in the 1990
draft. He's played in 230 games -- the most of any active NFL
linebacker -- with 227 starts and 1,724 career tackles.

Seau said his last piece of business will be to ask McGinest his
permission to wear jersey No. 55.

"I definitely respect Willie and the franchise here," said
Seau, who wore No. 55 at USC before McGinest did. "I'll definitely
lob him a call and ask if I can wear his number. I'll respect him
in that way."

Also Friday, the Patriots signed tight end Chris Luzar and
released tight end Walter Rasby, an 11-year veteran.