How Many NFL Players Have Died?

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As of 2014, only one death has occurred on the field during a National Football League game. In 1971, Detroit Lions wide receiver Chuck Hughes collapsed after a play and died of a heart attack.

The Philadelphia native was 28 at the time of his death, and the incident occurred during a game against the Chicago Bears. Bears linebacker Dick Butkus was the first to notice that Hughes collapsed, and he called for the Lions' team doctor. After multiple attempts were made to resuscitate Hughes, he was pronounced dead.

In 2005, Al Lucas, an arena football player, died from injuries sustained during a game in Los Angeles. The NFL has been criticized for the violent collisions that occur during games, and player Junior Seau is cited as an example of the type of casualty that can occur due to concussions. Seau committed suicide in 2012 after suffering brain injuries as a player.