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USA Today via Reuters

Injuries are definitely not a stranger to the NFL. Along with that, the football league has witnessed its fair share of tragedy with the sudden and untimely deaths of its athletes. From the heart-wrenching agony of heart attacks and the cruel twist of leukemia to the shocking devastation of a plane crash, the NFL has witnessed everything. These calamities have prematurely ended the careers and lives of five NFL players.

What have been the major reasons for these players’ untimely deaths? This article delves into the circumstances of these unfortunate deaths, shedding light on the personal and professional voids left behind. As we explore the legacies and the impact of their loss on the sport, we pay tribute to the players whose lives were tragically cut short.

Tragedy on and off the NFL field

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Starting with Lucien Henry Reeberg who was a promising offensive tackle for the Detroit Lions during his career. He succumbed to heart failure from uremic poisoning in 1964. Before him was Jefferson Davis Burkett who was also a versatile player for the Chicago Cardinals, perished in a plane crash in 1947.

This happened shortly after contributing to the team’s championship victory which made it even more saddening. Another player, Ernie Davis. He was the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy but never graced the professional field due to leukemia. He passed away in 1963. Terrance Gilbert Dillon’s potential was also cut short when a construction accident claimed his life in 1964. This tragic event took place just after his debut season with the Minnesota Vikings.

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Lastly, James E. “Ching” Hammill’s life ended tragically in a work-related accident in 1925. Just after showcasing his remarkable talent in the early days of the NFL. These athletes left a lasting legacy, their lives are a reminder of the fragility of human life. However, there has only been 1 player who died on the field during a game.

Remembering Chuck Hughes’ unprecedented death

During the year 1971, on a tragic day at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium, the NFL witnessed its sole in-game fatality in over a century. Chuck Hughes who was a well-known wide receiver, took his last breath during a game. He had journeyed from Texas Western College to the Philadelphia Eagles and then to the Lions.

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During a game against the Chicago Bears which turned out to be his last, he collapsed with a fatal heart attack. His abrupt fall to the turf after a successful catch, which was his first and only of the season, left 54,000 fans in stunned silence. After immediate medical attention, Hughes was pronounced dead. This marked a somber moment in sports history that is remembered with heavy hearts to this day.

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