Friday, March 02, 2007

Why are so many athletes dying?

I had been pondering covering this topic for days now, ever since I heard the news that former USF player Javon Camon died after a helmet-to-helmet collision in a minor league indoor football game, the latest casualty in what appears to be a depressing and accelerating trend: athletes dying suddenly under a bizarre variety of circumstances.

Obviously when an athlete or celebrity dies the story is magnified because of the public's familiarity with the person, even C-listers and minor leaguers. Therefore I thought perhaps it was just my imagination making it seem like the number of athletes to die in the past 6 months from unexpected circumstances was exceptionally high. Until I started to compile a list (morbid, I know, but inherently this is a sad subject.) Here are some of the recently deceased athletes and the reasons behind their unfortunate demise:

  • Cory Lidle P, NY Yankees (private plane crash, Oct 06)
  • Bryan Pata DE, Miami Hurricanes (shot in his yard, Nov 06)
  • Darrent Williams CB, Denver Broncos (shot in a limo Jan 1, 07)
  • Mario Danelo K, USC Trojans (fell from a cliff, Jan 07)
  • Keeley Dorsey RB, USF (collapsed after workout, Jan 07)
  • Damien Nash RB, Denver Broncos (collapsed at home, Feb 07)
  • Javon Camon DB, World Indoor Football (game hit, Feb 07)

Seven athletes in less than six months, and I'm not even including former players like NFL DB Andre Waters from a self-inflicted gunshot wound last November or former NBA great Dennis Johnson last week after an unexplained collapse. These were all active, apparently healthy young men who fell victim to a strange assortment of unfortunate events, leaving family, friends and fans mourning and scratching their heads, wondering why.

Of course I don't have the answer to the rhetorical question I posed in the title. How could anyone have a logical explanation when the various causes of these passings range from the freakish (Lidle, Camon) to the unforeseen (Williams, Pata) to the unexplained (Nash, Danelo)? None of these players were out patrolling the clubs looking for trouble, a la Pac Man Jones, although Williams' death was reportedly the result of a nightclub altercation. The scariest part of this is that for every accident that has happened there is another accident waiting to happen, like a Tank Johnson, Stephen Jackson or with any active member of the Cincinnati Bengals.

The hair is standing up on the back of my neck as I am typing this piece because a news story has just come on reporting that a bus full of college baseball players travelling through Atlanta has plunged off an overpass and crashed onto the road below, killing at least six occupants, including four young players.

And the disturbing trend continues.

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