Updated: 12/02/2012 7:35 PM KSTP.com
The apparent murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, 25, is one of a series of untimely deaths for current or former NFL players in recent years:
_ In July 2012, Tennessee Titans receiver O.J. Murdock, 25, was found in his car in front of his Florida high school with what appeared to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
_ In May 2012, Junior Seau, 43, shot himself in the chest at his home, less than 2 1/2 years after ending his Pro Bowl career as a linebacker. His family has donated some of his brain tissue for research amid questions about whether any damage from his 20-year football career played a factor in his suicide. His was at least the eighth among the 1994 San Diego Chargers, who played in the Super Bowl, joining Lew Bush (42; December 2011; apparent heart attack), Shawn Lee (44; February 2011; heart attack), Chris Mims (38; October 2008; enlarged heart), Curtis Whitley (39; May 2008; drug overdose), Doug Miller (28; July 1998; lightning strike), Rodney Culver (26; May 1996; airplane crash), David Griggs (28; July 1995; automobile accident).
_ In April 2012, former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, 62, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. An autopsy report found he had a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated concussions. Easterling played from 1972 to 1979 as a member of Atlanta’s "Gritz Blitz" defense. After his career, he dealt with dementia, depression and insomnia, according to his widow.
_ In February 2011, two-time Super Bowl champion Dave Duerson, 50, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest at his home in Florida. Duerson had at least 10 concussions in his NFL career, according to his family, and lost consciousness during some. He left notes for his family asking that his brain be donated to science, and researchers at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University’s School of Medicine concluded he had "moderately advanced" brain damage related to blows to the head.
_ In September 2010, Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley, 23, shot himself at his home not far from the team’s training complex. He was recovering from a second knee operation in eight months and, according to a probe of his death, was deep in debt.
_ In December 2009, Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry, 26, died from a fractured skull and other head injuries a day after tumbling out of the back of a pickup truck driven by his fiancee.
_ In July 2009, Steve McNair, 36, the quarterback and 2003 NFL co-MVP who spent most of his career with the Tennessee Titans, was shot to death by his mistress, who then killed herself.
_ In February 2009, Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, 26; free-agent NFL defensive lineman Corey Smith, 29; and former University of South Florida football player William Bleakley, 25, died when their boat overturned in rough water off the coast of Florida.
_ In November 2007, Washington Redskins Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor, 24, bled to death after he was shot in the thigh during a botched robbery at his Florida home. Police said the group of robbers did not expect Taylor to be home because the Redskins had a game that weekend _ but he was out with an injury.
_ In March 2007, Denver Broncos running back Damien Nash, 24, collapsed and died of a heart attack after he played in a charity basketball game to raise funds for his heart foundation.
_ In the early hours of New Year’s Day 2007, Denver cornerback Darrent Williams, 24, died after being shot followed by a confrontation between Broncos players and gang members at a nightclub.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)