Former Heisman Trophy-wining running back Rashaan Salaam was found dead in a parking lot on Monday night, police in Boulder, Colorado, confirmed. He was 42.
The former University of Colorado and Chicago Bears football star was discovered in Eben G. Fine Park — less than two miles from Folsom Field, where he used to play — at around 9 p.m., spokesperson Shannon Cordingly said, according to ESPN.
There were no signs of foul play and the cause of death will be determined via an autopsy performed by the Boulder County Coroner’s Office. However, Salaam’s mother, Khalada, told USA Today Sports that police found a note and suspect suicide.
“They said they found a note and would share that with us when we get there,” she said.
Members of the University of Colorado community expressed their sympathy on Tuesday over the loss of the beloved alum.
“He had a happy heart,” former coach Bill McCartney said in a statement on the CU athletics website. “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 was a brilliant college football player. In his Heisman season, he rushed for over 2000 yards. He was only the fourth player in NCAA history to have accomplished that at the time (12 have since), propelling the Colorado Buffaloes to a third place finish in the AP poll. I remember him being a lot of fun to watch even for those of us who weren’t Colorado fans. It was a shame that his NFL career didn’t match his NCAA years (he blamed immaturity), but that happens to a lot of Heisman winners.
Whenever a football player dies so young, especially if suicide is involved, questions about concussions come up. Nothing is being said about that just yet and let’s hope that the autopsy can figure it out.