49er lineman dies

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DENVER (AP) -- San Francisco offensive lineman Thomas Herrion collapsed in the locker room and died Sunday morning, shortly after the 49ers played the Denver Broncos in a preseason game. He was 23.

Herrion, a 6-foot-3, 310-pound guard, was on the field for San Francisco's 14-play, 91-yard drive that ended with a touchdown with 2 seconds left.

Players had finished listening to coach Mike Nolan address them in a postgame meeting when Herrion collapsed. Medics administered CPR on him and took him to an ambulance that rushed him to a nearby hospital.


About three hours later, 49ers spokesman Aaron Salkin confirmed that Herrion had been pronounced dead. The cause of death was not immediately known.

``This is a colossal tragedy for the 49ers and the entire NFL community,'' Salkin said. ``We still do not know all the details. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Herrion family.''

The death comes a little more than four years after offensive lineman Korey Stringer of the Minnesota Vikings died of heatstroke during a training camp practice on a day during which the heat index soared to 110.

Since Stringer's death, NFL teams have increased their efforts to teach players about hydration and how to manage the heat. They have been experimenting with sensors to measure players' core body temperatures, although those by themselves wouldn't be able to prevent a heat-related death.

Temperatures were in the mid-60s with 50 percent humidity Saturday night in Denver, although experts say heatstroke can occur even in cool conditions.

After the game, Nolan said he had no comments about San Francisco's 26-21 loss to the Broncos.

``There are more important things on our mind than the game,'' he said. ``Right now, our thoughts and prayers are with Thomas Herrion.''

Shortly after that statement, the Niners got dressed and boarded buses that took them to the Denver airport for their flight back to California. Salkin said coaches notified players of the tragedy at the airport.

``We didn't see anything happen,'' Niners defensive lineman Marques Douglas said. ``I sat by my locker and prayed for him.''

Herrion, a first-year player with the 49ers, played college ball at Utah and spent part of last season on the San Francisco and Dallas practice squads. He also played this season with the Hamburg Sea Dogs of NFL Europe.

Stringer's death was thought to be the first of its kind in the NFL. In 1979, St. Louis Cardinals tight end J.V. Cain died of a heart attack during training camp. Chuck Hughes, a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, died of a heart attack Oct. 24, 1972, during a game in Detroit against the Chicago Bears.

In April, Arena Football League player Al Lucas of the Los Angeles Avengers died of a spinal-cord injury he endured while making a tackle.


:cry: He was only 23

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there has been speculation going around and there seems to be two camps. One who believes that his weight was to blame (he was over 300 pounds) and the other camp believes that it's the heat and that he suffured massive heat stroke. I'm not sure which I believe, but a few days ago, ironically a day before this person died, the national news was talking about a pill that stays in your system for like 48 hours and it monitors your temperature. It is geared toward athletes, the pill is like $40 per one, and the reciever is like $3000. The medical staff of the team waves you with the reciever wand and it takes your internal temperature. If it's nearing 102, then you are at risk of heat stroke and you should rest for a little bit. I thought that was pretyt interesting. TOo bad it was too little too late for this guy. My condolences to his family :(

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Heat stroke playing in Denver? It was 50 degrees outside, though there was 49% humidity. Nonetheless, he did play college ball at Utah, so he was used to the higher elevation. I'm waiting to see what they determine his death was.

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You can get heat stroke even in cool weather, though. With the amount of pads these guys wear, the tight-fitting uniforms and helmets that barely fit their head, I can't imagine how much heat is unable to escape the body.

This really came as a shock to me, I watched that entire game. Next day I hear a 49er died after the game and I couldn't believe it. I'm expecting his cause of death will be extreme heat exhaustion or something in that area.

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