Korey Stringer died 16 years ago today

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On August 1, 2001, reports that Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer had been hospitalized due to a heat-related condition suddenly became news that he’d died.

“Heat stroke fells Korey Stringer” was the headline. I remember being very confused by it.

“Fells?” I thought. “That seems like an extreme description.”

But then I quickly realized what had happened, that Stringer had died as a result of exertional heatstroke. His passing sparked lawsuits and accusations and, ultimately, meaningful changes regarding the time of day for football practice and the importance of hydration. Not many years after athletes were told to simply swish the water around in their mouths and spit it out to avoid cramps, coaches became ultra-sensitive to the risks of practicing football in high heat and humidity.

Stringer became, according to the New York Times, the third NFL player to die on the field. An AFL player died in the 1960s due to a broken neck.

Teammate Randy Moss was shaken by the events.

“The only thing I’ve been thinking about for the last 24 hours is, if he does die, what happens to his little boy?” Moss said at the time. ”I don’t even know how and when I’m going to get over this, because it’s hard.”

Sixteen years later, the memory of that time for those who knew Korey Stringer surely remain fresh, because they’re still fresh for those of us who didn’t know him.

38 responses to “Korey Stringer died 16 years ago today

  1. You’d think it would be common sense but that’s the NFL. Surprised more people haven’t died in this league seeing how it’s almost never had the players best interest in mind.

  2. absolutevisuals,

    That is a valid point, but think of this. The league would be nowhere if there weren’t consumers, like us, soaking in the violent hits, praising the sacks or YouTube-ing the plays where guys get hurt. If there isn’t a business for it, the NFL doesn’t have concussion or heat stroke or broken neck issues. So who is really the ones that don’t have players’ interests in mind? I would say we are just as culpable.

  3. It really is amazing that this didn’t happen more in the 70s and 80s when water was withheld as punishment during training camps. People took pride in not taking water breaks and coaches thought it toughened people up. I do think that Korey Stringer’s passing single-handedly changed the landscape, especially at the youth level of all sports. Leagues started making rules rather than relying on coaches to do the right thing.

  4. In the locker room, it was said that Stringer was the team’s most popular player, and the only one who could get away with poking fun at the head coach.

    Dennis Green’s Vikings never recovered from that. The team sputtered out of the gate, and faded down the stretch. Green suffered his first and only sub .500 season as Viking head coach, and he was out before the end of the year.

    Very sad day. Hope his family is persevering through his loss.

  5. His death was sad, unfortunate, and totally avoidable.

    Certain packer fans on here love to make fun of it as well as the bridge collapse where people died.

  6. RIP Korey Stringer.

    What the article above fails to mention is that it took 10 long years for his widow to settle all lawsuits and a stipulation upon settling is complete confidentiality in terms of the dollar amounts. The Vikings were sued for medical malpractice, wrongful death and impersonating an NFL football team. The Minnesota based judge attempted to block all charges but the widow eventually succeeded in her legal attempts.

  7. What a sad and tragic loss for this young man and his family.
    I remember full well whenl this happened.
    And how horrible we all felt about it.
    A very disturbing and shameful day for the Vikings organization.

  8. Those were also the days of a handful of “alleged” ephedrine related deaths in sports. The FDA banned it’s use shortly after. Ephedra worked wonders for the stimulant effect and appetite suppressant.

    Stringer was a heck of a player and from all accounts a great person. RIP….

  9. The death of a real NFL player on the field is never something to joke about.

    But since Korey was a Viking, it’s at least little bit amusing…

  10. I’m ashamed to admit I had forgotten about this. Thanks for the reminder. I hope his family members are coping well and living fulfilling lives.

  11. contra74 says:
    Aug 1, 2017 2:29 PM
    His death was sad, unfortunate, and totally avoidable.

    Certain packer fans on here love to make fun of it as well as the bridge collapse where people died.

    =======================================

    I’m a die-hard Vikings fan. Please shut up. It’s absolutely absurd to bring stupid stuff like that up in a story about this. Packer fans have every right to rip Viking fans when people like you try to represent the true Viking supporters.

    Sincerely,
    The fan that is tired of people like this making us look bad

  12. I remember a young Randy Moss having to deal with that early in his career. Him talking in front of the cameras like that tore all the fans up. Even if you aren’t a Viking fan and you didn’t get a little choked up seeing Moss speak you are heartless fool.

  13. contra74 says:
    Aug 1, 2017 2:29 PM

    His death was sad, unfortunate, and totally avoidable.

    Certain packer fans on here love to make fun of it as well as the bridge collapse where people died.
    ________

    You got a lot of thumbs down on this comment but it’s the absolute truth. I won’t mention their names, but the number of comments of that sort is amazing and the thumbs up they get aren’t coming from Viking fans.

  14. I’m a die-hard Vikings fan. Please shut up. It’s absolutely absurd to bring stupid stuff like that up in a story about this. Packer fans have every right to rip Viking fans when people like you try to represent the true Viking supporters.

    Sincerely,
    The fan that is tired of people like this making us look bad
    ************************
    Amen. Just like a majority of Packer fans, most Vikings fans are normal and decent people. It’s the absurd and annoying Internet trolls that taint the whole group. “Those that speak the loudest, often have the least to say”

  15. I can’t believe it was that long ago. It seems like I heard this news maybe 6-8 years ago. This incident had to have an effect on practice regimens and rules, you would think.

  16. arianil985 says:
    Aug 1, 2017 2:44 PM
    The death of a real NFL player on the field is never something to joke about.

    But since Korey was a Viking, it’s at least little bit amusing…

    ————————————————————

    Smart AND classy…you must be a real lady’s man.

  17. I remember hearing this on the radio when I was still in college, and this was before fall semester started. I instantly thought he was going to die when I heard it even though the reports didn’t make it sound that serious. Guy was playing at a Hall of Fame trajectory level when he died. Real tragedy.

  18. Sucks then, sucks now. He lived in my neighborhood and was the nicest, most fun guy around, particularly for the neighborhood kids. Maybe I missed it, but I haven’t seen any negative cheeser comments. . . .

  19. It’s nice to see Packer fans and Viking fans supporting each other over the senselessness of this tragedy, and not allowing themselves to be distracted by the mindless low class trolls. My thoughts and prayers go out to Koreys family on this day, and may they find comfort in the change their suffering brought about.

  20. I still have that SI wit him his lovely wife on the cover.
    Sadly missed by family, friends and fans.
    I’ll never forget Moss crying so hard, RIP #77, Always!!!

  21. jm91rs says:
    Aug 1, 2017 2:06 PM
    It really is amazing that this didn’t happen more in the 70s and 80s when water was withheld as punishment during training camps. People took pride in not taking water breaks and coaches thought it toughened people up. I do think that Korey Stringer’s passing single-handedly changed the landscape, especially at the youth level of all sports. Leagues started making rules rather than relying on coaches to do the right thing.

    True, but then again, those guys int he 70s and 80s weren’t nearly as heavy as they are now. There were virtually no 300-pounders in the league in the 70s. Now, there’s about a dozen on each team. That extra weight makes a BIG difference in the heat.

  22. contra74 says:
    Aug 1, 2017 2:29 PM

    His death was sad, unfortunate, and totally avoidable.

    Certain packer fans on here love to make fun of it as well as the bridge collapse where people died.
    —————————————————————
    Agreed on the first comment. But sometimes it isn’t as totally avoidable as we’d like. The death of JV Cain, former St. Louis football Cardinal fell dead on the practice field when a condition he had since childhood finally went bad. Same with former LSU star & NBA player Pete Marovich in a pickup game at the age of 40.

    I drove to work and back every day for 35 years and crossed a bridge with a worse rating than the one that fell in in Minneapolis. The difference is half as many lanes and the bridge is rarely packed with vehicles in all lanes from one end to the other. But it had similar construction. Believe me, I wasn’t making fun of it then and I won’t make fun of it now. Thankfully it was replaced a few years ago. And FYI our company has suppliers in the Minneapolis area and we called them to see if they were ok.

    RIP Korey.

  23. It’s funny that people can make fun of his death but mentioning the events in a hot tub near Green Bay are forbidden….

  24. The Packer fans have no class, said the Viking fans who were so excited to have a child abuser back on their team.

  25. dcviking says:
    Aug 1, 2017 8:58 PM
    It’s funny that people can make fun of his death but mentioning the events in a hot tub near Green Bay are forbidden….

    9 7
    Report comment
    ———————————————————-
    Because the man responsible for the events in the hot tub was immediately cut by the Packers. Nice try though.

  26. The Packer fans have no class, said the Viking fans who were so excited to have a child abuser back on their team.

    —————————

    I’m just wondering what you think Packer fans making fun of Korey Stringer’s death — that’s OK with you???

  27. Because the man responsible for the events in the hot tub was immediately cut by the Packers.
    ————————————–

    and they were so appalled they put him in the Packer hall of fame and ring of honor

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