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 taken to California Hospital and all attempts to revive him were unsuccessful, team physician Dr. Luga Podesta said in a statement.
Members of the team were prohibited from speaking to the media after the game. 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. As the Dragons’ ball carrier and a blocker tumbled over his head and back, the blocker’s leg appeared to hit Lucas in the head. Lucas did not move after falling to the ground.
The 6-foot-1, 300-pound lineman played two seasons (2000-01) for the Carolina Panthers, recording 49 1/2 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.
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