LAS VEGAS -- Acute pneumonia killed professional football offensive lineman Travis Claridge in February, but he also had an
intoxicating level of the painkiller oxycodone in his system and an
enlarged heart, a coroner's official said Tuesday.
The cause of death was accidental, Clark County coroner's office spokeswoman Samantha Charles said, adding that drug intoxication
and Claridge's heart condition, called cardiomegaly, were
"significant" factors in his death.
Claridge, 27, played for the University of Southern California
and Atlanta Falcons before playing for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of
the Canadian Football League last year.
He was pronounced dead Feb. 28 at a hospital in Henderson after his girlfriend found him unconscious at his home in Las Vegas, authorities said.
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Claridge, a native of Detroit, played for USC for four years and was voted the Pac-10's top offensive
lineman in 1999. He was chosen by the Falcons in the second round
of the 2000 NFL draft and started 27 games over the next two
seasons but was limited to six starts in 2003 because of a knee
injury. The Falcons didn't re-sign him after the 2003 season.
He signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2004 as a free agent, but was cut during training camp.
Claridge joined the Tiger-Cats in 2005, working his way into the starting lineup before a shoulder injury cut his season short.
Oxycodone is an addictive painkiller that can depress the respiratory system while producing euphoria similar to narcotics
like morphine and heroin.