When you’re young and you look out onto a sports field, or look up to your favorite athletes, you know what you want to be; who you want to be; where you want to be.
Out there. With them. Playing the game you love.
But what so many of us take for granted and overlook are the people behind the scenes.
Sure, distracting a bull while the fallen rider makes a quick exit stage-left isn’t the most glamorous job. Nor is it the safest. And being “that guy that just got worked over by the bull like Barry Switzer during Super Bowl week” isn’t quite what’ll attract the ladies during the after show (chances are they’ll be off with the rider), but hey...someone has to do it, right?
Well, this year on Versus, that someone is Junior Seau.
Yeah. That Junior Seau.
The man you may know better as the linebacker for the New England Patriots (as well as a former Miami Dolphin and San Diego Charger) is teaming up with Versus to investigate some of the dirtiest, dangerous, most awkward, and thankless jobs the sports world has to offer.
Caddying in the LPGA? Where are his cleats? Changing tires for an IndyCar pit crew? Just don’t turn into this guy. Getting up close and personal in the world of MMA? So long as blood doesn’t make you squeamish.
Junior takes on (I could’ve said tackles...but would you have really laughed?) all of these challenges, along with some that you might not have thought of, in his very own show on Versus: Sports Jobs with Junior Seau.
In it, Seau tries everything from changing over the floor in Boston from ice, to hardwood, to ice once more, to trying to meet the same deadlines as the sportswriters who write about him try to meet every week.
Wednesday night following WEC 44, Versus aired a sneak peek at the series with an episode featuring Seau learning how to be MMA fighter Forrest Griffin's cornerman, leading up to Griffin's UFC 101 loss to Anderson Silva.
“Being a part of the National Football League for so long, I’ve come across so many trainers and equipment managers who’ve allowed (and helped) me to be who I am today,” Seau said in an interview with BlogTalk Radio. “This is a way of me giving homage to them.”
Simply put, this is nothing that’s been tried before. We’ve seen regular guys go against athletes, and people get second shots at failed dreams of glory, but an athlete slipping into the world of the "behind the scenes" in sports?
All Seau is trying to do though is “capture the audience with emotions and education.”
With everything he’s trying, he’ll certainly accomplish that.
Just like on the field, though, Seau was challenged throughout the show—the job that provided him the biggest challenge was getting in the ring with a 2,000-pound bull.
"To put it in perspective, the average offensive line in the NFL weighs a combined 1,600 pounds," Seau said. "So you can imagine how much power and how much force is behind that bull. It was frightening, it was new, and it was everything you feel when you’re uncomfortable."
With the fear of the unknown, though, Seau also learned and gained an appreciation for the people behind the scenes—especially in the IndyCar race.
"I came into the show thinking that these guys are just drivers," Seau said. "Scott Dixon is more than an athlete, but the pit crew who have to work in seven seconds while being judged by the world is nerve-racking."
For Seau, it’s not about meeting the athletes; it's about meeting the people behind the scenes and gaining an ever-deeper understanding and appreciation for what they do and who they are, as these are “the heroes that allow the pros to be pros.”
That doesn’t mean he didn’t meet a few recognizable faces along the way, though.
He not only got to caddy for Natalie Gulbis (a career that, as he says, he could see himself doing in real life because of how interesting the relationship is between the golfer and the caddy), but he also met Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and came away very impressed.
“He’s obviously one of the better hockey players, but he’s also so humble,” Seau said. “He’s so much fun to be around, and you can see that he’s a leader by example, but more importantly he doesn’t let anyone (players, trainers, equipment managers) see him differently.”
So how exactly do you choose a guy like Junior Seau for a show like this?
If you take Seau's word for it, “Versus saw me surfing and they liked my body.”
While that may not be the truth, if the show takes off, it could be its own episode: Board-waxer for Kelly Slater.
After all, it’s a low-key job, but someone’s got to do it.
Sports Jobs with Junior Seau is a new series on Versus. Be sure to tune in Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. on Versus starting Dec. 2 to see what Junior is up to this week! Hear the BlogTalk Radio interview here.
Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer and an NHL Community Leader with Bleacher Report. If you want to get in contact with Bryan, you can do so through his profile, or you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out his previous work in his archives, as well as at Hockey54—The Face of the Game.