Rashaan Salaam was haunted by the Heisman Trophy he won in 1994 and his inability to find work after his professional football career ended, said a final report by the Boulder Police Department on his suicide on Dec. 5, 2016, per the Boulder Daily Camera.
Salaam’s body was found in the parking lot of Eben G. Fine Park with a gunshot wound to the head, the Daily Camera quoted the report, and police believe he used a revolver that was found next to him to shoot himself.
Police reportedly found notes on his person about his death.
Salaam, 42, starred at Colorado University where he won the Heisman Trophy after rushing for more than 2,000 in a season. He was named the NFC rookie of the year after his initial season with the Chicago Bears, but injuries shortened his professional career, per the Daily Camera.
“Football is their job, it’s their purpose, it’s their value, it’s their everything,” Stephen Walker, a Boulder County sports psychologist, told the Daily Camera. “When they retire or they get cut or they have an injury, their life as they knew it is over. They have to completely reinvent who they are.”
Salaam played in only 17 games after his successful rookie season, with his NFL career completely ending by 2000.
USA Today reported that Salaam’s girlfriend Shelley Martin suggested he lost thousands of dollars investing in business start-up ideas.
“(Those people) did him dirty,” Martin said about people Salaam invested in, per USA Today. “He felt like he had to be protected. He had prior incidents that he felt like he was in bad situations.”
Police said family members told them they didn’t know where Salaam’s Heisman Trophy was but that he considered it a burden of high expectations that would follow him for the remainder of his life, USA Today reported.
A charity fundraiser told police that they asked Salaam in 2015 if he wanted to bring his award to an event and the former football star “broke down crying.”
Salaam’s father, Sulton Salaam, who was named Teddy Washington and played for the Cincinnati Bengals before converting to Islam, told police he didn’t think his son struggled with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head impacts, or CTE, but his short NFL career hit him hard, the Daily Camera said.