Death Brings Back Memories

The San Francisco 49ers face the same numbing disbelief that the Vikings faced a little more than four years ago with the death of Korey Stringer. The 49ers lost first-year offensive lineman Thomas Herrion over the weekend.

It has been four years since Korey Stringer died following a training camp practice, but for those coaches and teammates that knew and loved Big K, the time hasn't healed all the wounds. In the small fraternity that is the NFL, losing one of your own as suddenly as they did in the wee hours of Aug. 1, 2001, the entire league felt the sting.

So it was as word got around late Saturday that 49ers offensive lineman Thomas Herrion had collapsed in the locker room following a game with the Broncos – in front of his teammates – and later died without regaining consciousness. As the first word began to leak out, it immediately brought several Vikings players back to the emotions that ran through their minds when word got out that Stringer hadn't recovered from his bout with dehydration and heat stroke.

The sad memories of that week – the cancellation of training camp practices, the sight of players like Cris Carter and Randy Moss crying at the makeshift interview podium the morning after Stringer's death and the gathering of players current and past in Ohio at his funeral – came flooding back as Herrion's death was put into perspective.

As of this writing, the preliminary autopsy results don't show an immediate, obvious cause of death. Hopefully, the media will restrain itself from rushing to a conclusion, like many news sources did in the aftermath of Stringer's death.

Those of us at VU would like to send our condolences to Herrion's family. They're in our prayers because, whether Herrion was a Viking or not, those of us who lived through the Stringer tragedy haven't been the same since. And now, unfortunately, the Vikings and 49ers have something in common that nobody wishes they would have.


The Vikings released five players Monday morning: Linebacker David Bamiro, wide receiver Avion Black, QB John Bowenkamp, center Shawn Lynch and tackle William Obeng. With three years of experience, Black was the only one among those cuts who had more than one year of NFL experience.

NFL teams don't have to trim their rosters to 65 players until Aug. 30, but their Winter Park locker room doesn't accommodate as many players as training camp facilities in Mankato did.

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