Ex-Charger Paul Oliver commits suicide at 29

September 26, 2013

Paul Oliver picks up a fumble in a 2010 game for the Chargers. (A.J. Mast / AP)

Paul Oliver, a former cornerback who spent most of his career with the San Diego Chargers, died Tuesday night of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Marietta, Ga.

Oliver, 29, shot himself with a handgun at about 6:45 p.m. EDT, according to Mike Bowman, public information officer for the Cobb County Police. Bowman was not, however, certain of the location of the wound. Other NFL players who have committed suicide over the last few years, like the Chargers’ Junior Seau in May 2012, have shot themselves in the chest to preserve their brains to be studied for degenerative disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Oliver, who played at the University of Georgia, played in 57 NFL games from 2008 to 2011. He also played for the New Orleans Saints.

“It’s sad to lose anyone, for that matter, but a guy that you played with — I can remember interactions with him like it was yesterday,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said (via the Atlanta Journal Constitution).

“He was a good friend of mine. Great guy. Great guy,” the Denver Broncos’ Quentin Jammer, who played with Oliver in San Diego, told USA Today’s Lindsay H. Jones. “I mean, the early reports were that he committed suicide, and he just didn’t seem like that type of guy. You never know what somebody is going through, what’s going on in somebody’s life.”

Both USA Today and the AJC note that Oliver’s death is the second to touch Cobb County’s football community. Kenny McKinley, a Broncos wide receiver from Mableton, Ga., died in 2009 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 23.

“It’s heartbreaking for me personally, for our staff, for the Bulldog Nation I’m sure, and obviously for his family,” Georgia Coach Mark Richt said. “I’m just, I mean I was just crushed this morning when I heard it, quite frankly. I really haven’t been able to keep it off my mind, to be honest with you.

“We’ve got to find a way to reach out and help in any way we can. I hope there is some way the Bulldog Nation can rally around that family, I hope everybody would be encouraged to do so.”

Chargers safety Eric Weddle told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Oliver, who is survived by his wife and two children, “never said a bad word about anyone. Just a good genuine guy. From the moment he got here, he was up front. Loved the game. You could always count on him. Every year, it seemed like he was a backup who could play special teams. Then he got into games, and he always played well. You’d never think of something like this happening to a guy like that. It’s surreal, really. …

“We used to have some side jokes, and some of them still carry on today even though he’s not here. Even more so now, we’ll think about him every day, just what he brought to us and how he was as a person. … I wasn’t thinking about football much today; that’s for sure. It’s a sad day.”

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren | September 25, 2013