NFL Player Who Served in Iraq Dies

Associated Press

SEATTLE - Tony Fein, an Iraq war veteran and NFL rookie linebacker who played with the Baltimore Ravens during the preseason, has died of unexplained causes after collapsing at a friend's house on the Kitsap Peninsula of Washington state.

Fein, 27, an undrafted rookie free agent from Mississippi, was lying face down and unconscious, vomiting and barely breathing when medics arrived at a house outside Port Orchard just before 9 a.m PDT Tuesday, said Mike Wernet, a battalion chief and medical officer with South Kitsap Fire & Rescue.

The medics put a breathing tube down Fein's throat after he stopped breathing and administered medication, but he went into cardiac arrest during the drive to Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton, across Puget Sound from Seattle, and was pronounced dead at the hospital at 9:48 a.m. PDT Tuesday, Wernet told The Associated Press.

A man and woman who were present described Fein as a friend who was staying with them. They told the aid crew they awoke to find him unresponsive and vomiting.

"They didn't really give us a lot of information about what had happened the night before," apparently because they were upset, Wernet said. "They didn't indicate anything out of the ordinary."

There were no obvious wounds or signs of alcohol or other drug abuse, and nothing indicated foul play, he added.

The Kitsap County sheriff's office wasn't summoned, and Wernet said he knew of no subsequent contact with his agency to indicate deputies were investigating. Deputy Scott E. Wilson, a spokesman in the sheriff's office, did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

An autopsy won't be conducted before Thursday and no report will be issued before all toxicology and other tests are complete, likely in six to eight weeks, said Allen G. Gerdes, Kitsap County chief deputy coroner.

Fein, a native of Port Orchard, was released by the Ravens in their last major round of roster cuts on Sept. 5.

"Tony Fein was a really good teammate, a tremendous American, a tremendous young man ... just a really good person," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said before Wednesday's practice in Owings Mills, Md. "We were proud to have him here as part of our team. We're unbelievably disappointed about the news."

Fein's agent, Milton D. Hobbs, a lawyer in Oxford, Miss., said he last spoke with Fein on Friday and since the death had talked with the Fein's sister, mother and some friends. He would not discuss a possible cause of death.

"He was working out and we were discussing football opportunities. That was still his goal," Hobbs said. "We talked about Canada."

Some Canadian Football League teams had expressed interest in Fein before he joined the Ravens but there had been no contacts since he was cut, the agent said. Fein was arrested on Aug. 23 and charged with misdemeanor assault on a police officer after an incident at a restaurant at Baltimore's Inner Harbor in which the officer reportedly mistook his cellular telephone for a handgun. A trial was scheduled Wednesday, but prosecutors notified Fein's attorney last Thursday that they planned to dismiss the case because of conflicting witness accounts, state's attorney spokeswoman Marty Burns said.

Fein played quarterback for South Kitsap High School before graduating in 2000. At age 19 he enlisted in the Army and spent 2 1/2 years in Iraq as a 19 Delta reconnaissance scout.

He later enrolled at Scottsdale, Ariz., Community College, became one of the nation's top junior college recruits and played for Ole Miss in 2007 and 2008. In two seasons at Ole Miss, he had 136 tackles (77 solo) in 24 games, according to the school's Web site.

"A humble young man," Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis said of Fein, who stuck with the team until the final cut. "Our hearts definitely go out to his family because it's such a tragedy for a man to be that young and go through the things he's been through."

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