T Nation

Herrion Autopsy Results


Well, we can all breath a sigh of relief. Herrion's autopsy results are in, here's the NYT link: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/07/sports/football/07herrion.html

Here are the highlights:

Herrion, who was 23 years old, had significant blockage in his right coronary artery as well as a slightly enlarged heart, according to the medical examiner. The only drug found in Herrion's blood and urine was atropine, which was administered by medical personnel trying to resuscitate him when he collapsed after the Aug. 20 game in Denver.

I'd also like to add that another similar death occured at the University of Missouri this summer and again no substances were attributed to his death, he had a rare form of Menningitis.

My heart goes out to the families of these young men, but I can't help but feel relief that substances have been medically ruled out as cause of death.


What do you mean "we can all breathe a sigh of relief"? He had a severely clogged artery. Maybe stuff like that ran in the family but that surely could have been prevented by changes in diet and weight. The NFL needs to step up and educate the players more about stuff like that.


The "sigh of relief" comes from the fact that weightlifting supplements were ruled out as a cause of death. There was a lot of hoopla put forth that evil protein shakes and other such horrible drugs caused the guy to keel over.

[warning: hyperbole ensues]
Now, we all know that supplements won't kill you, but in the view of politicians and couch potatoes, anything other than fried food, twinkies, or alcohol is evil and should die.
[end hyperbole]


Herrion's agent, Fred Lyles, said by phone, "I spoke to his mom today, and I think she's happy that she can finally get some closure, and rid the speculation of steroids and supplement use that may have been out there."

So once again supplements are demonized and spoken in the same breath as steroids. I would like to bitch slap the stupid out of this player's agent for perpetuating the public fear mongering of supplements.


Please correct me if I'm wrong, but if he had an enlarged heart, as stated above, shouldn't that have been detected by doctors when he was in college or after he got into the NFL?

And if not, how long would it take for soemone with blockage to develop enlargement of the heart?

My thought is, have you noticed over the last twenty or so years a trends of athletes, usually very fit people we would think, dying of heart conditions, often at a young age? What is causing this, and more importantly what are the doctors missing in order to prevent it?


I have a few more minutes now to put a few of my thoughts into words. First, "breathing a sigh of relief" probably wasn't the best choice of words, but I am happy that the supplement/steroid bandwagon has been shot down. As was previously stated, his mother has said as much also.

Second, I agree that there should be a concern regarding the size and health of many atheletes. I really don't think that our hearts were made to run 300+ pound bodies, weather you're unhealthy and obese or "Bob Sapp" with low bodyfat.

The autopsy did show some scarring on the heart that meant he probably had some kind of "episode" as close to a week before his death. However, some of those signs can be so subtle, and when your career requires you to get "beat up" and ignore pain, it probably was brushed aside.

It will be interesting to see what arises from this in the NFL. Will there be a weight limit imposed? More rigorous health screenings? Perhaps even people being denied access to play due to family background? Who knows, but as far fetched as some of these may seem, I'm sure we will be further amazed at other proposals that will be made.


I'll take a crack at this one. When something like an enlarged ticker shows up on an X-ray or on an EKG, especially in larger people, it gets overlooked unless the patient is symptomatic. Especially if he's an athlete.

"Well, looks like he has an enlarged heart, but he IS a big 'ol boy, and hell he's statistically outside of the age range to have any issues right now anyway..."

Could this have been prevented? To a degree maybe, but take into account where this particular guy came from, what his family history was, what his occupation was, as well as his obligations to his family.

He grew up in the Dallas area, more than likely eating lots of southern cooking, had bad cardiac genetics to begin with, and was encouraged to "keep on eatin" in order for to him to maintain a roster spot. Now, to come from a College system like Utah, and to only be on the practice squad as well as spend the spring/early summer in Europe one can safely assume that Herion was either slow in speed, slow in picking up the intricacies of being a quality NFL lineman, or just not mean enough. Lord knows it wasn't because he was just too small. So, with that being said, you have to figure that he took especially big risks and put lots of uneccesary strain on his body to achieve his goals.

Can anyone here say that they haven't done that? Put your body through a risky scenario that might have had unsavoury consequences to achieve a goal?

In Mr. Herion's case he was unlucky, the cards werent' in his favor, the stress that he put on his body to achieve his goals ended up killing him.

This story helps me realize that life is really fucking fragile, no matter who you are or what you do...


As someone who has seen more than my fair share of dead bodies and tragedies, I'm a firefighter, you'd think I'd realize just how fragile it is. But just like the rest of us, I'm oblivious and take it for granted, maybe worse than most.

There were a bunch of posts last month about testicular cancer and getting it checked out. Maybe we need to be talking more about overall preventative health. This guys death needs to remind us all, getting big and strong doesn't mean you're healthy. We need to encourage each other on here not only to train hard, but also to take care of your body and go to the damn doctor.