Twelve years ago today, Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Kory Stringer died of complications from heat stroke. His death is no less stunning now than it was then, and each year it provides us an unfortunate opportunity to remind the thousands of football players across the country that heat stroke is real, it's deadly and it's now entirely preventable.
Here is a link to a comprehensive guide to heat safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Make sure you read all three pages.)
On a related note, I thought I would pass along a relevant excerpt from a new book published by former Vikings receiver Cris Carter and ESPN's Jeffri Chadiha. In it, they suggest that Stringer's death -- and the subsequent legal fallout -- was the original spark for Randy Moss' distrust of the team's authority figures. (The portion of the passage in quotes is attributed to an interview with former Vikings defensive end Lance Johnstone.)
Randy's bond with Kory made it all the more difficult when Kelci [Stringer] filed a $100 million lawsuit against the Vikings for not doing enough to prevent her husband's death (that suit started a long legal battle that ended in 2009, when the NFL reached a settlement with Kelci). "Randy has never told me this, but I believe that entire situation affected how he looked at management," Johnstone said. "He started to put up a wall at that point. Korey was Randy's best friend on the team and a lot of things were said after he passed. It was alleged that the Vikings could've done better when he started complaining about his [health] problems, and I know his wife wasn't happy about how the team responded after his death. Randy wound up in that camp as far as fighting the team."
My own sense of Moss' makeup is that if it weren't Stringer's death, he would have found personal affront in something else in the team's operation. But anyone who witnessed Moss bawling on national television the morning of Aug. 1, 2001, knows how profoundly Stringer's death impacted him.