Making 'Stringer' synonymous with heat awareness

July, 13, 2009
7/13/09
5:36
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

I broke away from the blog Monday afternoon to write this news story about the latest twist in the legal cases following the 2001 death of Minnesota offensive lineman Korey Stringer.

  Stringer

In all of the legal wrangling that has occurred since Stringer succumbed to complications from heatstroke, Monday's might have been the most significant. An Ohio judge wrote that Riddell Inc. -- manufacturer of the NFL's shoulder pads and helmets -- should have issued a formal warning that using its equipment in excessive heat could lead to heatstroke. U.S. District Judge John D. Holschuh set a Nov. 2 trial date to determine whether Riddell's failure to warn contributed legally to Stringer's death.

To be sure, this represents a small part of the legal path Stringer's widow has followed since Korey Stringer died Aug. 1, 2001. It's only a slice of the broad explanation for why Stringer died. But to me, the timing of this news is fortuitous in the big picture of heatstroke awareness.

At all levels of the game, preparations are under way for training camps across the country. Hopefully people will see the name "Stringer" and remember that a healthy, star player died as the result of practicing football on two consecutive steamy days.

Stringer collapsed after a full-pads practice on the second full day of Vikings training camp. His core temperature was 108.8 degrees by the time he got to the hospital and he died early the next morning. It happened that fast.

The Vikings claimed in court documents that they found products containing the since-banned stimulant ephedrine in Stringer's training camp locker. The Blue Earth (Minn.) County coroner did not test for ephedrine in his autopsy, and so we'll never know for sure if it also played a role in Stringer's death.

But from the big picture, I hope that players and coaches of all ages and levels will continue to use the Stringer tragedy to understand how serious heatstroke can be -- utilize every risk control at their disposal. If you need help, start here with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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