Continuing what a tragic year for former football athletes, yet another NFL alumnus has died.
Rashard Anderson, who was the Carolina Panthers’ first round draft pick in 2000, died yesterday at age 45. Anderson was the most recent player to have been drafted into the NFL from historically Black college Jackson State University, a program which is undergoing a resurgence under head coach and NFL hall of famer Deion Sanders as well as new rules allowing athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness.
Jackson State announced Anderson’s death yesterday in a statement.
“Today is a sad day for the JSU family,” JSU athletic director Ashley Robinson said. “Rashard was one of the best players in the history of our football program and an outstanding person. He attended our spring football game in April and was excited about the program returning to championship status. Rashard will always be remembered by Jackson State University, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”
Anderson, who played cornerback, was inducted into the Jackson State Sports Hall of fame. He played there from 1996 through 1999 and was a member of the team that won the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship his freshman year. His JSU teammate, Sylvester Morris, was also drafted in the first round that year, two spots before Anderson.
His NFL career, though, was short-lived. After being drafted 23rd overall by the Panthers, he only played in Carolina for two seasons, starting a total of nine games. He accumulated 68 solo tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery that he took back 97 yards for a touchdown.
ESPN reports that Jackson died in Mississippi. His cause of death is unknown. He is the latest in a string of relatively young former NFL players to die recently, including former Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jaylon Ferguson and former Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber.