Eight-year NFL veteran Mims found dead

LOS ANGELES -- Chris Mims, a former defensive lineman for the San Diego Chargers beset by legal problems, was found dead in his downtown apartment Wednesday. He was 38.

Authorities said there was no evidence of foul play.

Mims was discovered shortly before 9:30 a.m. by police officers conducting a welfare check, police said. The coroner's office declined to comment because Mims' relatives had not yet been notified.

Mims played eight seasons in the NFL, seven with the Chargers and one with the Washington Redskins. He retired in 2000, finishing with 42 sacks and 10 forced fumbles in 104 games.

The 6-foot-5 Mims battled weight problems and once referred to himself as the "Fat Doctor" because he often tipped the scales at more than 300 pounds.

Mims was drafted out of Tennessee in the first round by San Diego in 1992. He had a career-high 11 sacks when the Chargers won the AFC in 1994. He returned the next season but made only two sacks. After the 1995 season ended following a playoff loss to Indianapolis, Mims was almost an hour late for the team's final meeting, coming out of a limousine disheveled. The Chargers released him in 1997.

A year later, Mims was convicted of refusing to take a blood-alcohol test after being pulled over for suspicion of drunken driving. His driver's license was suspended for a year. A judge had previously found Mims innocent of driving under the influence because prosecutors failed to prove their case.

In 1999, a man claimed Mims attacked him outside a fast-food restaurant and stole his tacos.

Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, who was offensive coordinator at the time Mims was a player, recalled how Mims and his teammates helped turn around a struggling defense in the early '90s.

"I had to coach against him every day in practice, and that was no fun," Fulmer said Thursday. "That's really a sad thing, a very young person to be passing away at that age."