Junior Seau's Free Spirit Shined Brightly in Patriots' Locker RoomIt's so difficult to see Junior Seau's life end this way.

The future Hall of Fame linebacker was such a free spirit, so easy to be around. He cared about maximizing his life on the field and off, and he was always so happy. It's gut-wrenching to hear of Seau's reported suicide.

Seau spent the last four seasons of a 20-year career with the Patriots, and he was introspective, always trying to figure out how he could do more with his life. During the offseason, he taught himself how to surf and play the guitar and the ukulele, and he got a kick out of playing the simplest songs in the locker room, whether he was trying to entertain his teammates or reporters.

When he decided to return in October 2009, he joked that he'd walk away from the game if Bill Belichick ever stopped calling him to rejoin the team. And that led into a quote that I could never forget.

"There's such a great lifestyle that you work for so long to enjoy," Seau said. "I'm not going to cry about cutting up oranges and apples and packing a cooler and going to a football game, my son's football game, or my daughter's volleyball games, and heading home and surfing for three hours, having a tuna sandwich and playing the ukulele. There's nothing bad about that."

Seau would talk football all day, too. He'd reminisce about the game, discuss his role in his later years or preach about the great times he was having in a leadership role in New England, particularly as the roster began turning over in 2009.

Seau's last couple years were dark, and there's no telling what he wrestled with emotionally, but he didn't come across as the same fun-loving person who almost always smiled and had the time of day to talk about anything in his mind.

Rest in peace, to a true gentleman.

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.