Former NFL player Cedric Killings, who fractured a vertebra in a 2007 game, has died at the age of 45.


June 29, 2023 | 1:43 am

Cedric Killings, who played in the NFL from 2000-2007 before a broken vertebra ended his career, died at age 45 of lung cancer on June 21, according to his alma mater.

“My love, my best friend, my husband of 21 years is no longer physically with me but lives in my heart and the hearts of our three children,” his wife Shavon posted on Facebook on June 23. Knowing that he is relaxing and no longer in pain, but I am still at a loss and can’t believe this is real. If you have enjoyed meeting him, you already know how special he is. Just a wonderful person all around. Not only do I say this as his wife, but it is echoed by his friends, boyfriends, and former teammates. It is an honor to share life with him and to love and be loved by him. Very grateful for all of that. I love you forever “.

Cedric Killings of the Houston Texans poses in front of a 2007 NFL quarterback shooting in the head on the day of a photo shoot in Houston, Texas.
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Killings was a standout in the late 1990s at Carson Newman University and was a four-time NCAA Division II All-American at a Tennessee school.

“Cedric was an amazing person, player, father, husband, teammate and most importantly, a man of God,” said Carson Newman football coach Mike Clowney, who played for Killings during the 1996 season. “We pray for and grieve for Cedric’s family during this difficult time.”

Killings went undrafted but was signed by the 49ers in 2000 and collected a career-high three sacks, including his first major league game against Troy Aikman.

He later played for the Panthers, Washington, and Texas.

Defensive tackle Cedric Killings #97 of the Houston Texans is assisted off the field by medical personnel after suffering an injury in the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts on September 23, 2007 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Getty Images

Right before the 2007 season, the Texans let Killings go, with coach Gary Kubiak calling him “one of the hardest players I’ve ever cut.”

The team re-signed him two weeks later.

In Houston’s Week 3 game against the Colts, Killings fractured his vertebra in a head-on collision on kickoff.

Although Killings would not play again, he surprised the Texans by showing up at practice five days after the injury.

Houston Texans defensive tackle Cedric Killings smiles after being released from Methodist Hospital on Friday, Sept. 28, 2007 in Houston.

“Everybody’s pumped,” said linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Everyone stood up and started clapping for him. It was an amazing, wonderful thing to see him walk through those doors.”

His wife and three children survive the killing.

The news comes the same week that former Texas quarterback Ryan Mallett, who drowned at the age of 35, died. Location = %20 buttons
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