Ex-Packers linebacker dies in crash

Wayne Simmons, Green Bay's first-round draft pick in 1993, died early this morning in a fiery automobile accident near Kansas City. Simmons, 32, was speeding and weaving through traffic when his car went off Interstate 70 about 2:45 a.m., witnesses told police.<p>

The car rolled several times and landed in the ditch, with its engine catching fire, and witnesses tried to pull out Simmons, who was alone in the car, but they could not undo the seat belt.

Firefighters arrived, put out the fire and pulled Simmons out. He was taken to Independence Regional Health Center and later pronounced dead.

Simmons started at linebacker for the Packers in 1996 and helped the Packers win Super Bowl XXXI. He was traded by the Packers to the Kansas City Chiefs in October of 1997 in exchange for an undisclosed draft choice.

The former Clemson athlete had 76 tackles in 1996. He also had one interception, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and five passes defensed. Overall with Green Bay, Simmons played in 64 regular season games with 47 starts, posting 163 solo tackles, 96 assists, three interceptions and 7.5 sacks. He also played in 10 postseason games with nine starts.

Simmons was taken by the Packers with the 15th overall pick in the draft in '93. The Packers also selected safety George Teague out of Alabama with the 29th overall pick in the first round, trading their second round pick to the Dallas Cowboys in order to select Teague.

The Chiefs released Simmons the day after a 30-7 Monday night loss to Denver in 1998 in which Simmons and teammate Derrick Thomas were called for a total of five personal fouls on the Broncos' final touchdown drive. Thomas, a close friend of Simmons, died in 2000 of complications after being injured in a traffic accident that left him partially paralyzed.

"It's such a shock," Chiefs defensive end Eric Hicks told KCTV-TV. "Wayne was so energetic and tough. ... He was a very intense guy and I think one of the best linebackers in the country. "He had a good career. It's really sad.''

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