Cornerback David Croudip of the Atlanta Falcons, a former Ram who was credited with a tackle against his former teammates in Sunday’s loss, died early Monday morning of heart failure caused by what appeared to be cocaine intoxication, according to medical reports.
Croudip, 29, was taken to a hospital after his wife, Holly, found him suffering seizures at the family’s home in Duluth, a suburb of Atlanta.
Efforts to revive Croudip failed and he was pronounced dead at about 3:30 a.m., EDT.
At a news conference late Monday, Dr. Joseph L. Burton, the area medical examiner, told the Associated Press that preliminary reports indicated cocaine and possibly another drug were found in Croudip’s system.
“He may have done as much as a gram of cocaine,” Burton said.
Shortly after Croudip’s death, witnesses told the Gwinett County coroner, Randy Simpson, that they saw Croudip ingesting “a concoction or cocktail of some sort with cocaine and some liquid.”
Burton expressed surprise in the intense interest in Croudip’s case to United Press International.
“I suppose that’s to be expected because he was an athlete,” he said. “But I do one or two autopsies almost every week on people who have died from drug-related causes.
“Cocaine is the most dangerous drug on our streets today. Taking cocaine is like playing Russian roulette with a pistol. You never know when it’s going off. Each time you use cocaine, you are taking a chance of something going bad.”
Ram players and coaches were shocked at learning of Croudip’s death. Croudip played in 16 games for the Rams in 1984, mostly on special teams.
Coach John Robinson said he spoke with Croudip after Sunday’s game.
“We stopped and visited in front of the buses for a while,” Robinson said. “I found David to be a very competitive guy, a very happy guy--full of life. He was the kind of guy who had a number of friends on this team. He was a very positive human being. We’re all shocked. It’s a tragedy that he was murdered by this stuff. To me, David was a very nice man, a strong man, full of life.”
Ram cornerback LeRoy Irvin said that a television broadcaster-friend in Atlanta phoned him with the news early Monday morning.
“I don’t understand what happened,” Irvin said. “I’m still looking for answers. I talked with him after the game, he knows my family. We talked about how the season was going, everything like that. He said he was going to be with his wife and his kid. That’s the last I talked to David. It’s very shocking. Very shocking.”
Irvin said Croudip didn’t have a reputation around the league as a drug user or even a heavy drinker.
“It’s really just unbelievable,” Irvin said. “He wasn’t a guy that really partied or stuff like that. He was a pretty clean-cut guy. It didn’t seem like it could be David. I just can’t believe it.
“Knowing David, it just didn’t seem like he was in that situation. Usually, you could tell. David, no way. I asked the newscaster 15 times, ‘Are you sure it was David Croudip?’ I thought it was a wrong name or something. I just didn’t see it. I’m still kind of baffled.”
Irvin added that Croudip did not seem depressed or disturbed when they spoke Sunday.
“During the game he’d say things to me,” Irvin said. “And I talked back to him. Even when I was finished taking a shower, and we were leaving, we sat down and talked for 10-15 minutes. He never gave me any indication that there was anything going on his life of that importance.”
Croudip joined the Rams as a free agent in 1984, after 2 years in the United States Football League with the Los Angeles Express and Houston Gamblers. Croudip, in fact, is credited with recovering the first fumble in USFL history, in the Express’ inaugural game against Herschel Walker’s New Jersey Generals in 1983.
Croudip played a season with the Rams in 1984 and was released the next September. He was claimed by San Diego, played 2 games with the Chargers and then signed on in Atlanta, where he became a standout on special teams.
Croudip had strong Southern California ties. He attended Dominguez High School in Compton, Ventura College and San Diego State. At the time of his death, his permanent residence was in San Diego.
The Associated Press reported that Croudip’s funeral will be held Saturday in San Diego at 2 p.m. at the Greenwood Memorial Park and Mortuary.
In New York, the National Football League issued the following statement through spokesman Joe Browne:
“This type of personal tragedy only underscores the need for all of us in professional sports--clubs, players and the league offices--to continue to do everything we can to counteract the influence and the sometimes fatal results of illegal drug use.”