Blair Buswell has made busts for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for 32 years. With Junior Seau, he took just a little extra care.
“Knowing the story and how important he is,” said Buswell from his home in Utah, “yeah the pressure was on.”
Usually Blair sits his subjects down and measures them in person. For Junior, he had to find a different way.
“When I’m doing a posthumous I just have to get as many pictures as I can,” said Buswell, who received nearly 70 photos of Seau from the Hall of Fame, “all different ages, all different expressions.”
The one he landed on is the one he had the most of … the look that captures Junior’s on-field persona.
“Most of them were the intense look. So, majority ruled and I went with that expression.”
Even after three decades of making Hall of Fame busts, Seau presented a unique challenge.
“He’s the first Polynesian to go in (to the Pro Football Hall of Fame) and every ethnicity has its own structure and look. That’s what I didn’t have.”
To get the details just right, Buswell went to his roots. He was a running back for BYU and played with several Polynesian players (as well as quarterback Steve Young, and yes, Blair did make his old team mate’s Canton bust).
“One of my old team mates is coaching at BYU. He lined up a player or two for me to go measure and take pictures of.”
Buswell also blew up several of his pictures to life-sized proportions to help get the bust just right. Blaine has actually been a Seau fan for years. Each season he goes to the Pro Bowl to measure that year’s inductees, giving him about six months to complete them all. During those trips, he was often impressed by the great Chargers linebacker.
“I was just amazed at his ability, as big a guy as he was, and quick. He was a specimen. I was really impressed with him so I was a fan and I watched him from then on.”
Buswell does the work in water-based clay then has them casted in to bronze. He always strives for accuracy and honesty. With Seau, it looks like he got it just right.
“I hope it was received well.”
Seau and his 2015 classmates earned the final spot in The Hall of Fame Gallery (the name of the iconic room where all the bronze busts call home). There’s no more room inside. For the next few years the classes will have to go on the walls outside the room as the Hall looks at ways to expand.