LOS ANGELES, April 10 -- Former NFL defensive lineman Al Lucas died Sunday from a presumed spinal cord injury suffered 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 attempts to revive him were unsuccessful, team physician Luga Podesta said in a statement.
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 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. The Dragons' ball carrier and a blocker tumbled over his head and back, with the blocker's leg appearing 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, making 49 1/2 tackles in 20 games. He attended Troy State from 1996 to '99 and won the Buck Buchanan Award his senior season as the top defensive player in Division I-AA.
"Al Lucas played arena football with passion and integrity. The entire AFL family extends its deepest sympathies to Al's wife and family as well as his friends, family and teammates," Commissioner David Baker said in a statement.