There is something out there called the San Diego Sports Curse, and it’s supposed to refer to the city’s inability to capture a major pro championship in the last four to five decades. But it takes on a sadder and more disturbing meaning in the wake of Junior Seau’s apparent suicide Wednesday.
Too many former football players die much too young, with Seau the latest, but too many former football players are gone from one team, and it’s those 1994 Chargers.
This sports curse is unique in that it applies to all the teams in all sports in the city and to their bad luck on and off the fields of play. I was not aware of such a curse until it was mentioned today (not being from San Diego) but here is an excerpt about it.
The Chargers defeated the heavily-favored Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1994 AFC Championship game. Within 18 months, Chargers running back Rodney Culver was killed in a plane crash in Florida and Chargers linebacker David Griggs died in a car accident. Linebacker Doug Miller was fatally struck by two bolts of lightning in July 1998 in Colorado. Center Curtis Whitley and defensive lineman Chris Mims both died in 2008, at age 39 and 38, respectively. Defensive lineman Shawn Lee and linebacker Lew Bush both died in 2011 of cardiac arrest. Star linebacker Junior Seau was found dead in his Oceanside home, allegedly via suicide, on May 2, 2012. In total, 8 members of the Chargers’ only Super Bowl team have died untimely deaths.
Very bizarre indeed. However, it’s not a curse. Sports people are a notoriously superstitious lot and are prone to buy into things like luck and jinxes. They see patterns in random events. That’s what is happening here. Just as there are reasons why some people are actually more “lucky” than others, some people may be more “unlucky” or prone to die earlier. First, there is the mental and physical stress from being an athlete. Over time, prior abuse of their bodies can cause health problems. Car accidents might also be more prevalent due to circumstances of wealth, feelings of invincibility or ego. Suicide more prevalent because of fame and depression issues. There are many factors that can cause people to be slightly more prone to early death. But in this case, the deaths are grouped together and given a name.
The causes of this so called curse are silly: jersey colors, a bad trade, comments made.
But, it’s more realistic to understand risk factors and to assess these unfortunate incidents individually, not collectively since to do that leads to false conclusions.