American football: Death of former college star Salaam ruled suicide

 Former Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam was found dead in a Colorado park on Dec 5.
Former Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam was found dead in a Colorado park on Dec 5.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Rashaan Salaam, a former Heisman Trophy winner as America's top college football player who was found dead in a Colorado park on December 5, shot himself, a coroner's report released Thursday said.

Salaam, 42, starred at the University of Colorado and won the 1994 Heisman Trophy, beating out Warren Sapp and Steve McNair and winning by a landslide margin of 842 points.

The Boulder County Coroner's Office released a report saying he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

There was a note at the scene of the shooting, which was in a park near the university campus. According to the report, Salaam killed himself after struggling with depression.

From his standout college career, Salaam went on to an abortive career in the NFL. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1995 and enjoyed a strong rookie season.

But his NFL career unravelled, with Salaam admitting that marijuana use played a role. Salaam broke his leg during the 1997 season and entered a rehabilitation program the following year.

He remained out of football until signing as a free agent with the Oakland Raiders in 1999.

After a short stay with the Raiders, he briefly played for the Cleveland Browns before trying his luck with the XFL's Memphis Maniax and the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts.