Former Heisman winner, Bears’ 1st-round pick Rashaan Salaam dies at 42

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Rashaan Salaam, the Chicago Bears’ first-round pick in 1995 and a former Heisman Trophy winner, has died at age 42.

Salaam was found dead Monday night at a park near Boulder, Colo., and police said there was no sign of foul play.

Salaam's mother, Khalada, told USA Today that police found a note when they discovered her son's body and suspect it could be a suicide.

“They said they found a note and would share that with us when we get there,” Salaam’s mother said.

The University of Colorado expressed its deepest condolences for one of the school's greatest athletes.

“The Buff Family has lost an outstanding young man and a great Buff today,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said Tuesday. “We are heartbroken for Rashaan and his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time.”

Salaam spent his first three years in the NFL with the Bears, rushing for 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns his rookie season.

But injuries and his inability to avoid fumbling derailed his stay in Chicago. Salaam, who fumbled 14 times in 31 games with the Bears, suffered a broken leg in the third game of the 1997 season and was cut by the team after that campaign.

He split time between the Browns and Packers in 1999, his final year in the NFL.

Salaam won the Heisman Trophy in 1994 while at the University of Colorado, rushing for a school-record 2,055 yards his junior year and leading the Buffaloes to an 11-1 mark.

“He was very coachable,” said Bill McCartney, who was the head coach of the Buffaloes during Salaam's Hesiman-winning season. “He had a happy heart. I loved being around him. He didn't take himself too seriously, and he always credited those around him, especially his offensive line. What I liked about him is that he had a sparkle in his eye. He was upbeat and positive.”