A former NFL running back has been found dead in a park in Colorado. He was 42.
Rashaan Salaam, who won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Colorado in 1994, went on to have a four-year career in the NFL, according to The Guardian.
The Boulder County Coroner’s Office confirmed Salaam’s identity Dec. 6 but added that the cause of death remained unconfirmed. A Boulder Police spokeswoman noted that no foul play was suspected and that there was no immediate threat to the local community.
The Boulder Daily Camera reported that the cause of Salaam’s death is believed to be suicide.
His body was discovered by a passerby at a local park and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Salaam had his trophy-winning season with the Colorado Buffalos, when he reportedly rushed for over 2,000 yards.
“The Buff family has lost an outstanding young man and a great Buff today,” a statement from athletics director Rick George read, according to the Daily Camera. “We are heartbroken for Rashaan and his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time.”
Salaam was picked by the Chicago Bears for his first season in the NFL and rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. He became the youngest NFL player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
In subsequent seasons, Salaam suffered a series of injuries. The Denver Channel reported that he also had problems off the field, including marijuana use.
He made his last appearance in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns in 1999. A number of attempts to make a comeback in the XFL and CFL failed, The Guardian reported.
“He was very coachable,” said former coach Bill McCartney, according to the Daily Camera. “He had a happy heart. I loved being around him. He didn’t take himself too seriously, and he always credited those around him, especially his offensive line. What I liked about him is that he had a sparkle in his eye. He was upbeat and positive.”
Salaam also established the Spin Foundation, which he hoped would help children in the Colorado area achieve success.
“Life can present many obstacles and difficult decisions at any age, but especially as a young person,” Salaam wrote on his website, KMGH reported.