The Mortality of NFL Players

NFL NationContributor IDecember 17, 2009

CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 04:  Chris Henry #15 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs the ball against the Cleveland Browns during their game at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 4, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 23-20 in overtime.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

We lost a football player this morning in Chris Henry. He was a young man in the prime of his career, a young man who was changing his life for the better.

Yes, he had a string of legal problems early on in his career, but sometimes young men in the world of professional sports are ill equipped to handle the amounts of money they make. Sometimes, they just need time to mature.

Maybe Chris Henry was on this route. Maybe his future could have been something that people could look up to. Unfortunately, we will never know.

He has been taken from us as a result of a vehicle related death. It's not the first time this has happened. The great defensive tackle, Jerome Brown, died with his nephew while driving at high speeds in his Chevrolet Corvette. He lost control and crashed into a power pole—he was 27.

Hall of Famer, Derrick Thomas, lost control of his Chevrolet Suburban while driving at a high speed. A passenger lost his life on the spot and Derrick passed away two weeks later due to a pulmonary embolism at the age of 33.

Pat Tillman was a man of a different breed. He was a winner in life and a hero in death.  He walked away from a pro football contract to join something he believed in. He had convictions above and beyond the average man. He served his country unlike any other football player I have seen. He passed away at 27.

Joe Delaney was a man with a big heart. A man who cared for others more than he cared for himself. A running back with a most promising career ahead of him. He once paid for the funeral of a former teacher whose family could not afford it.

He gave up his life trying to save three children from drowning in a pond. It didn't help the Joe didn't know how to swim. But it didn't matter. He wasn't about to stand by and watch. He did the right thing. Joe and the two children died on June 29, 1983. He was only 24.

We've lost some great players and great men in the prime of their lives. Some were troubled, some were recovering, and some were, and remain heroes.

May you rest in peace...