April 10, 2005
CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
Avengers player dies from injury sustained in game
LOS ANGELES – Former NFL defensive lineman Al Lucas died Sunday from a presumed spinal cord injury sustained while trying to make a tackle for the Los Angeles Avengers during an Arena Football League game, the team said.
Lucas was pronounced dead at California Hospital after attempts to revive him were unsuccessful, team physician Dr. Luga Podesta said in a statement. An autopsy was planned for Monday or Tuesday, the county coroner’s office said.
A call to a California Hospital spokesman was not returned.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm the passing of Al Lucas. At this time, the thoughts and prayers of the entire Avenger organization are with his wife and family,” team owner and chief executive officer Casey Wasserman said in a statement.
The 26-year-old Lucas was injured during a first-quarter kickoff return against the New York Dragons.
Television replays showed Lucas bending down to make a tackle. The Dragons’ ball carrier and a blocker tumbled over his head and back, with the blocker’s leg appearing to hit Lucas in the head. Lucas did not move after falling to the ground.
“There’s nothing you can say about what happened,” Avengers lineman Sean McNamara was quoted as telling the Los Angeles Daily News. “It never entered our minds as a possibility. You think about his family and his daughter and hope they’ll be all right.”
“When you’ve got a player lying on the ground the only thing that goes through your mind is that it could be any of us out there,” fullback Lonnie Ford told the Daily News.
The 6-foot-1, 300-pound lineman played two seasons (2000-01) for the Carolina Panthers, recording 49Â½ tackles in 20 games. He attended Troy State from 1996-99 and won the Buck Buchanan Award his senior season as the top defensive player in Division I-AA. In 43 games at Troy State he had 255 tackles and 11Â½ sacks.
He was selected to the Arena League’s All-Rookie team in 2003 while playing for Tampa Bay.
“Al Lucas played arena football with passion and integrity. The entire AFL family extends its deepest sympathies to Al’s wife and family as well as his friends, family and teammates,” commissioner David Baker said in a statement.
Lucas, of Macon, Ga., was married to De’Shonda Lucas and had a daughter, Mariah.
During the Arena League offseason, Lucas worked as an assistant coach at Macon’s Northeast High School, from which he graduated in 1996.[/u]