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NFL Player Found Dead In Car

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Former San Francisco 49ers punter Max Runager was found dead in his car in a South Carolina parking lot June 30.

Runager began a long career with the NFL in 1979, when he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, according to The Post and Courier. He and his team made it to the Super Bowl but lost in 1980. 

In 1984, he joined the San Francisco 49ers and found his way back to the Super Bowl that year, this time helping his team to victory. He finished his 11-year career with 61 career punts and a 40.2 yards-per-punt average.

Runager was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007 and into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013. He was also an SEC Football Legends Pick in 2013; according to The Post and Courier, he was called "arguably the best punter in Carolina football history."

Authorities say they do not suspect foul play in the 61-year-old Runager's death. He was found in his car in the Edisto Memorial Gardens parking lot. 

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According to his father, Geb Runager, the former punter was under concussion protocol with the NFL. He had been tested a number of times for concussion and neck injury issues.

His brain will undergo testing in Boston to see if he suffered from what is known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. According to the Brain Injury Research Institute, CTE is "a progressive degenerative disease which afflicts the brain of people who have suffered repeated concussions and traumatic brain injuries, such as athletes who take part in contact sports, members of the military and others."

Over time, the brain will begin losing mass and cause life-altering effects in the affected individual. Common side effects include memory loss, aggression, depression, and a gradual onset of dementia. A number of professional athletes, including NFL player Junior Seau and professional wrestler Chris Benoit, have been affected, leading to untimely death.

A number of athletes, sports announcers, and South Carolina residents are expressing their condolences, according to The State.

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"Hard to believe my old friend Max Runager is gone," said South Carolina sports journalist Teddy Heffner over Twitter. "Condolences to his family."

Sports director for WLTX-TV Reggie Anderson expressed similar regrets on Twitter: "Sad to hear of the passing of former USC/NFL punter Max Runager at age 61. Max was an Orangeburg-Wilkinson grad who played in 2 Super Bowls." 

Runager is survived by his three adult sons, his parents, his three brothers and one sister. A service will be announced at a later date in his hometown of Orangeburg.

Sources: The Post and Courier, The Brain Injury Research Institute, The State / Photo Credit: Joe Brockmeier/FlickrSan Francisco 49ers/Twitter, Daily News, Inc./Twitter

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