SAN DIEGO (AP) — Thousands of fans got the chance to cheer one more time for Junior Seau at the stadium where he starred for 13 seasons.
Hours after Seau was buried in his hometown Friday, a crowd estimated at 20,000 attended a public memorial service at Qualcomm Stadium for the hard-hitting, fist-pumping linebacker. Many wore Seau's No. 55 — in Chargers blue, Southern California cardinal and gold and Miami Dolphins aqua and orange. One of Seau's cousins wore a jersey combining the colors of all three of his pro teams, including the New England Patriots.
Former NFL safety John Lynch led a shout-out of "Buddy!" — Seau's greeting to friends and strangers alike.
"I love it," Lynch said.
"He was a good and loyal friend," said former teammate LaDainian Tomlinson, who drew some of the biggest cheers of the night as he spoke. "Notice the words I said: good and loyal."
Chargers President Dean Spanos made official what many had known since Seau left after the 2002 season, that No. 55 will never be worn by another Chargers player.
Among those attending were Seau's parents, his former wife and their children, several current and former Chargers, and former rival John Elway. Elway, who now runs Denver's front office, was accompanied by new Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and coach John Fox, a former assistant with San Diego.
Seau's No. 55 was painted at midfield.
Seau committed suicide on May 2 at his Oceanside home. He played parts of 20 seasons in the NFL.
After a private funeral earlier Friday, Seau was buried at Eternal Hills cemetery.
Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell opened the service with a prayer.
"Junior, we don't know if you can see this down here, but tonight's your night."
Said Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts: "Our paths never crossed on the field, but boy could we have used him with the offense of Air Coryell. I'm also glad I never had to play against him. I could just imagine the thought of him sacking me, then standing over me and dancing all over me."
Someone yelled, "Ask Elway!"
Fouts called it a "classy move" for Elway, Manning and Fox to attend, and the crowd cheered.
Seau didn't leave a suicide note.
"No doubt this is a tragedy," Fouts said. "A tragedy for the community of San Diego, for Chargers fans and football fans everywhere. And with all tragedies, there are lessons to be learned, lessons that must be learned by all of us. The lesson here is, if you need help, get help. It's out there. All you have to do is swallow your pride and ask for it. We all need help at times. We can all do a better job of helping each other."