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NFL legend Junior Seau found dead at his California home

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(Getty)

Former NFL linebacker Junior Seau was found dead Wednesday morning at his Southern California home. He was 43 years old.

The ex-linebacker's girlfriend found the NFL legend with a fatal gunshot wound to the chest. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that police received a call to 911 at 9:35 a.m. reporting a possible suicide, per Oceanside police Chief Frank McCoy. Officers found Seau in a bedroom with a gunshot wound to the chest, and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. Reports indicate that a gun was found by Seau's side. Seau's death was first reported by TMZ.

The San Diego Chargers issued a statement at approximately noon PT:

Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now...We ask everyone to stop what they're doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family.

"Obviously, it's shocking," Chargers team president Dean Spanos said. "It makes you feel very sad. He's brought so much to this community over the years. A good person, a good friend. He was the fabric — really a part of this community. He was the heart and soul of our team for so many years. Even after he left, his roots and his home were still here. Just people loved him and admired him."

If Seau committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest, it is similar to the way former Chicago Bears great Dave Duerson ended his life. Duerson shot himself in the chest on February 17, 2011 -- the method used so that his brain could be examined for symptoms of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a trauma-induced disease common to NFL players and others who have received repeated blows to the head.

Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowler and 6-time First-Team All-Pro, was selected fifth overall in the 1990 NFL draft after an outstanding collegiate career at USC. He played with the San Diego Chargers through the 2002 season, spent 2003-2005 with the Miami Dolphins, and then signed with the New England Patriots in time for the 2006 season. In New England's perfect regular season of 2007, he played in all 16 games and started four. Seau first retires after that season, only to come back and play in 2008 and 2009 before finally leaving the NFL for good.

"I'm going to go surf," he told Showtime upon his January, 2010 retirement announcement. Whatever happens, I can honestly say, that that probably was my last game."

Seau is the eighth member of the Chargers' 1994 Super Bowl team to pass. We will keep you updated on this story as more news is confirmed.

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