Premature deaths of former NFL football players are a frighteningly frequent occurrence. A few weeks ago, Dave Duerson tragically committed suicide, and on Saturday, former San Diego Chargers defensive Lineman Shawn Lee was found dead.
While Duerson’s suicide shook up his peers because he may have been suffering from a degenerative brain disease, Lee’s death is eerie for entirely different reasons: he is the sixth member of the 1994 AFC championship Chargers to pass away prematurely.
The 44-year-old died from cardiac arrest brought on by double pneumonia—he weighed more than 300 pounds even in his playing days, and he had been struggling with diabetes for the last several years—but the other members of the team died younger, and were killed in freak occurrences.
Linebacker David Griggs, 28, was the first to go—the result of car crash in June 1995. Running back Rodney Culver, 26, died in a plane crash a year later. Center Curtis Whitley, 39, died of a drug overdose in 2008, and defensive lineman Chris Mims, 38, who weighed 456 pounds, died from heart failure in 2008.
In an incident strange on several levels, former Bolts linebacker Doug Miller, 28, was killed when he was struck by not one, but two bolts of lightening in 1998.
Some members of the team are understandably spooked.
“Not again,” said former Chargers running back Natrone Means “It’s crazy, just crazy, that we’ve had so many guys who have fallen. I can’t make any sense of it. I’ve given up trying. You just hope you quit getting these random messages out of nowhere that another teammate has passed away.”
Lee’s death only adds to the tragic (and creepy) story.