Arena Football player dies of presumed spinal cord injury
April 10, 2005 LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Former NFL defensive lineman Al Lucas died Sunday from a presumed spinal cord injury sustained while trying to make a tackle for the Los Angeles Avengers during an Arena Football League game, the team said.
Lucas was taken to California Hospital and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful, team physician Dr. Luga Podesta said in a statement.
A call to a California Hospital spokesman was not returned.
``It is with great sadness that we confirm the passing of Al Lucas. At this time, the thoughts and prayers of the entire Avenger organization are with his wife and family,'' team owner and chief executive officer Casey Wasserman said in a statement.
The 26-year-old Lucas was injured during a first-quarter kickoff return against the New York Dragons.
Television replays showed Lucas bending down to make a tackle. The Dragons' ball carrier and a blocker tumbled over his head and back, with the blocker's leg appearing to hit Lucas in the head. Lucas did not move after falling to the ground.
The 6-foot-1, 300-pound lineman played two seasons (2000-01) for the Carolina Panthers, making 49 1/2 tackles in 20 games. He attended Troy State from 1996-99 and won the Buck Buchanan Award his senior season as the top defensive player in Division I-AA. In 43 games at Troy State he had 255 tackles and 11 1/2 sacks.
He was selected to the Arena League's All-Rookie team in 2003 while playing for Tampa Bay.
``Al Lucas played arena football with passion and integrity. The entire AFL family extends its deepest sympathies to Al's wife and family as well as his friends, family and teammates,'' commissioner David Baker said in a statement.
Lucas was married to De-Shonda Lucas and had a daughter, Mariah.
Several NFL players have died shortly after games, though no one has been declared dead on the field.
Detroit Lions receiver Chuck Hughes died of a heart attack during a game on Oct. 24, 1971. Hughes entered the game late in the fourth quarter and ran a deep route over the middle. As he headed back to the huddle, he collapsed. Team doctor Richard Thompson tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Hughes on the field and the game was finished in silence.
In 1963, Kansas City rookie running back Stone Johnson died 10 days after he broke his neck in an exhibition game against the Houston Oilers. In the game played at Wichita, Kan., Johnson was hurt while blocking on a kickoff return.
In 1960, New York Titans tackle Howard Glenn injured his neck during a play in the first half and died soon afterward.
Washington Redskins tackle Dave Sparks and Chicago Cardinals tackle Stan Mauldin died of heart attacks after games. Sparks died in 1954 three hours after a game, while Mauldin collapsed in the locker room in 1948.
Two college football players died from neck-related injuries in the past 15 years. Mississippi defensive back Chucky Mullins died from injuries sustained on Oct. 28, 1989. Mullins was paralyzed when he broke his neck tackling Vanderbilt tailback Brad Gaines and died 18 months later on May 6, 1991, in a Memphis, Tenn., hospital.
Washington defensive back Curtis Williams was injured exactly 11 years later attempting to tackle Stanford running back Kerry Carter. He was paralyzed from the neck down and died May 6, 2002.