August 21, 2005

49ers Lineman Dies After Game: Thomas Herrion, 23, an offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers, collapsed and died after last night's preseason game in Denver against the Broncos. The 310-pound lineman played the 14-play, 91-yard drive that ended the game. Herrion was a standout in NFL Europe struggling to make an NFL roster who was nicknamed "Thunder" for his loud mouth on the field.

posted by rcade to football at 08:42 AM - 37 comments

I suspect that the site of this game will prove to be a factor in this tragic death. When I moved to Denver, the adjustment to the altitude was tough.

posted by rcade at 08:57 AM on August 21, 2005

With the weight these guys carry, it amazes me this doesn't happen more often. I'll be really surprised if they don't find blocakge in his left anterior descending artery, the widow's artery. RIP, young Herrion.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 09:24 AM on August 21, 2005

talk about leaving it all on the field.ha......JOKES

posted by david at 04:27 PM on August 21, 2005

Good one. Got any more?

posted by yerfatma at 05:45 PM on August 21, 2005

I dont think they will find any blockage(due to him being only 23)I do think they will find some trace of performance based/or recreational drug that most likely will be deemed the "cause" of death. I hate to speculate at this time. However this guy was a "3rd stringer" who was trying to make the roster.I guess i see now why some of these guys want more money. Some of them actually do "leave it all on the field". May God Bless His Family.

posted by Web_Spiner at 06:58 PM on August 21, 2005

I'm not going to jump straight to blaming drugs for this. Korey Stringer (remember?) was a veteran of the camps, and a Pro Bowler, and he dropped dead one day too, clean and steroid free as the day he was born. Drugs are the popular culprit these days, but it could just be the grind of camp. NFL Training Camps are notoriously hard, and the culture lends itself to never letting up, especially for a kid who sees an opportunity to make the big club, and who's made friends on the big club (including Alex Smith, who played with him at Utah). Linemen have short life expectancies anyway, and frankly, given how relentlessly brutal their jobs are, I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often. If it's drugs, then it is. But jumping to that conclusion is frankly a huge mistake.

posted by chicobangs at 08:06 PM on August 21, 2005

I agree chico, (if I may call you that) you guys don't even know how he died and you are all speculating. I think I will wait for the autopsy report before I base my judgement. I am sorry this happens to anyone regardless of the reason.

posted by skydivemom at 08:17 PM on August 21, 2005

If it's drugs, then it is. But jumping to that conclusion is frankly a huge mistake. And extremely, extremely tacky.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:44 PM on August 21, 2005

wait a second(before some imature war of words starts. which seems to be the norm here when a new person gives thier opinion)I took another look at my post. And i did make a mistake with the way i worded it.To be honest, i really meant i feel like it may have something to do with an "over the counter" GNC type enhancer.Maybe a caffiene/creatine based "blood pressure raiser like alot of these guys take(in connection with dehydration).IF IT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH DRUGS OR ENHANCERS AT ALL.I actually only came to that conclusion after reading in an article that the Med examiner stated he has to "wait for the toxicology reports".Because the autopsy was inconclusive. (sorry, linkbuilder doesnt seem to work for me) In my opinion, i think its a little more "tacky" to crack jokes then to speculate about the cause of death.But in my earlier post i refrained from (scolding)the person i disagreed with because people are free to say whatever they want. No matter how tasteless.

posted by Web_Spiner at 09:17 PM on August 21, 2005

People are free to say what they want, and other people are free to comment on it. A toxicology report is just another diagnostic medical test. It doesn't mean that some form of toxin is suspected, necessarily, just that a more cursory examination found nothing.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:34 PM on August 21, 2005

Man this really sucks the guy was a friend of mine.............. this is so hard for me

posted by Footballgouy51 at 10:38 PM on August 21, 2005

51, sorry if any of my comments offended you. I was wondering if someone related to Mr. Herrion(or a friend)might see this thread(or for that matter be a member of sportsfilter).Again im sorry to hear about the loss of your friend.I certainly didnt intend any disrespect with any of my comments.

posted by Web_Spiner at 11:03 PM on August 21, 2005

Everybody can say what they want . They will anyways. Some of us have class and some of you dont. regardless of any drugs a 23 year old son of god is dead and the niners have a reason to play the season like god ( niners in the 80 ,s )My heart and prayers go out to his family , the niners and those who knew him.

posted by 9erftbl at 12:11 AM on August 22, 2005

first let me say my prayers are with his family. second, although his death is a tragedy, it should be a warning to all overweight althletes. if you are going to weigh that much you need to be monitored by a doctor on a regular basis. and (it may not be an issue here) stay off the supplements and crap around the locker room. and the bad part the 49ers will be at fault for this. like they sit there and hold a gun to his head and tell him to do this. what a pity.

posted by hullie16 at 07:17 AM on August 22, 2005

Usually, a death of a teammate causes a team to play much worse that year, but brings the players closer together. When the Cleveland Indians lost Steve Olin and Tim Crews to the boating accident during spring training, they had a terrible season, but said the closeness of the team helped them turn things around and reach the World Series a few years later. The NFL Network is airing the Niners-Broncos game this afternoon. Today's San Francisco Chronicle has a story on the preliminary autopsy, Herrion's final minutes, and how the team is coping. Reading this reminds me of the on-court death of Hank Gathers. If there's any comfort to be had in this tragedy for Herrion's family, he appears to have collapsed at the end of a team prayer in the locker room.

posted by rcade at 07:46 AM on August 22, 2005

Reading this reminds me of the on-court death of Hank Gathers. Reading it reminds me of the just-walked-off-the-court death of Flo Hyman -- of an undiagnosed congenital heart ailment. In those days, people were much less given to shoot-from-the-hip speculation about the cause of an athlete's death, which is fortunate, because they sure would have felt like a whole herd of donkeys when the cause of Hyman's death was finally revealed.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:50 AM on August 22, 2005

I overlooked another Chronicle story: A column on friends in Herrion's Texas hometown.

posted by rcade at 08:09 AM on August 22, 2005

Korey Stringer died of heat stroke which was ruled out in this case . I hope it wasnt from ephedra . Although Stringer didn't show any traces of it in his body he had a few bottles of supplements in his locker at the time of his death . Herrion was a big guy , I wonder if he was trying to shed some pounds fast . Tragic anyway you look at it though .

posted by evil empire at 08:37 AM on August 22, 2005

Thanks for the links, rcade, especially the last one. Man...this is just so, so sad. Footballgouy51, you hang in there and keep your head up. I believe your friend would want it that way.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 09:12 AM on August 22, 2005

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family. To speculate as to the cause, at his point would be very foolish.

posted by daddisamm at 09:17 AM on August 22, 2005

what happend obviously wasn't a good thing but maybe it's a sign about how fat this country really is?

posted by Smokeybear420 at 10:01 AM on August 22, 2005

Sokeybear420, since we don't know what the cause of death was, how can we call it a sign of anything?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:18 AM on August 22, 2005

Can we stop with the "Well, if we can't make steroid comments, how 'bout fat comments"? I'd venture a guess that a number of the linemen you all are concerned about are in better health than the average SF member. Unless you guys are out pushing a sled in the 85 heat on a regular basis. I'm not denying there are guys who are killing themselves for our entertainment dollars, but I don't think 350 lbs == desperately unhealthy every time.

posted by yerfatma at 10:43 AM on August 22, 2005


posted by qbert72 at 11:33 AM on August 22, 2005

I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often. me too. though it seems to be happening more often than in the past, and to younger players as well, which leads me to think it isn't the wear and tear, but something else.

posted by garfield at 11:34 AM on August 22, 2005

garfield, is it possible that the wear and tear is worse nowadays? Not that the laws of physics have changed, but with (potentially) more at stake, is it just possible that coaches are pushing their players, and players are pushing themselves, much harder than, say, forty years ago? I don't have an opinion either way, I'm just wondering if it sounds plausible.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:30 PM on August 22, 2005

Also, some coaches are definitely worse about this stuff (not allowing water/breaks, pushing players past healthy levels and not letting them recover properly). Tom Coughlin, just for example, when he was in Jacksonville, would have two or three players wind up in the hospital every year with heatstroke or dehydration.

posted by chicobangs at 12:53 PM on August 22, 2005

The reason I mentioned the possibility of blockage is because it happened to me. My vitals at the time were 6'3", around 250 pounds, 45 years old. I ran 2-4 miles twice a week and played soccer with the team I coached twice a week...and ate fast food. I had two heart attacks in 4 days, one episode lasted about 15 minutes, the second about 5 hours, after I went to my knees walking off the soccer field after playing in about 90 degree heat. I had no insurance at the time and couldn't think clearly enough to pick up the phone and call 911. The pain was unbelievable but wasn't slam-dunk heart attack pain down the left arm, no just fu(king hurt...bad...and it came in waves. I woke up the next morning feeling completely beat up but the pain was gone and I seemed to be OK. Fast forward 9 months to July '04 and, having insurance, I went for a physical which included an ekg. The ekg showed a problem and I was scheduled for an angiogram on August 23, which showed 99% blockage of the left anterior descending artery. The doc went through with angioplasty, putting two stents in to unclog the artery. One of the biggest things the doc told me to do was lose weight. It didn't matter that my body fat was 15%, the fact is I weighed too much and that was a huge contrubutor to the attacks. While I certainly don't think it's fair to Herrion, his family, friends and teammates for people to speculate the cause could be drugs, I do think his weight is a possibility and an open topic. We should realize that many people in this country are killing ourselves, and athletes aren't immune. I don't think Smokeybear's comments are out of order...he did say "maybe." Of course we have to wait and see on the autopsy report but I don't see what the problem is with any SpoFi member speculating. I mean...isn't that what we do here? It's been almost a year since they opened my artery, and I sure am glad to be here...the best of life is yet to come!

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 12:54 PM on August 22, 2005

Man, the worst thing I ever did was break a finger. I've never been so happy to be so boring. But for sure I think I'll skip fast food for the next six decades or so. Actually I allow myself fast food twice a month - seems to be working.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:02 PM on August 22, 2005

I specialize in impact injuries, myself. And wounds.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:11 PM on August 22, 2005

llb, that's a good question, but I wouldn't know how to quantify it. I know kids lift weights, and more often, at earlier ages than before and NFL caliber linemen are faster and more athletic than before. But are the collisions and other stresses of training more intense and frequent? Intensity could be up, but I would think frequency has remained basically static, or at least the variance negligible. Is there any correlation of O-lineman getting the worst of collisions/shorter life expectancy/etc. vs. D-lineman? NYTex, did you get those new-fangled stents? My pops got those, and no problems since.

posted by garfield at 01:49 PM on August 22, 2005

Yes garfield, the drug-emitting kind. No problems at all and my cholesterol has gone from 290 to 116. The doc had to try a couple of drugs to stabilize the cholesterol but Vytorin seems to have done the trick, along with the cocktail of other meds he has me on. In fact, I'm going in tomorrow morning for another lipid test and will have the results this Friday. How long has it been for your dad since he had the stents put in?

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 02:12 PM on August 22, 2005

It's been about 2 years. He seems fine. Good diet. Regular exercise. I forget which brand persrciption drug he takes. He's in good health and that's the problem. My mom still has him working like a dog on the yard.

posted by garfield at 03:02 PM on August 22, 2005

Just reported by espn news Mr.Herrion tested NEGATIVE for any banned substances in the past 12 months including steroids/recreational drugs/and any OTC products containing ephedra.(i just wanted to add this since i was the 1st one to "speculate" ANY type of drug being the culprit of his much to early demise) He was tested 3 times in the past 12 months.God rest his soul.

posted by Web_Spiner at 01:56 PM on August 23, 2005

Of course it has to turn out he was a good guy.

posted by yerfatma at 06:24 AM on August 24, 2005

My niece is just a ball of energy," Herrion said. "She's always asking me on the phone when she can come ride in my truck again. I usually have to drive her around before she'll go to sleep. I can't wait to see her again. She's my baby." -T.Herrion Excellent article verfatma.I pray that another family member takes over Mr. Herrions duty driving his niece around.And i hope they let her know how much he loved her everyday. This man had a higher calling. He sounds like the exact type of person God wants working closely with him.It may be hard to understand, but some people are above this earthly realm.Football,money,games, the things of this world are nothing when compared to a mans true destiny.God Bless Him.

posted by Web_Spiner at 11:23 AM on August 24, 2005


posted by justgary at 07:41 PM on September 06, 2005

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