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Former Atlanta Falcons Safety Ray Easterling Commits Suicide

Former Atlanta Falcons defensive back star Ray Easterling had been suffering from dementia which he was linked to concussions during his time in the NFL.

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Ray Easterling was a star safety that played for the Atlanta Falcons from 1974-77 and the lead plaintiff against the NFL in a class action suit related to concussions was found dead in his Richmond, Va., and according to police his death was caused by a self-inflicted gun shot wound:

Easterling, 62, was found by his wife, Mary Ann, who contacted police at 6:14 am on Thursday. Easterling was dead, with a handgun nearby, when police arrived, Richmond police Captain Yvonne Crowder told

"Based on our investigation, we are ruling it a suicide," Crowder said.

More recently Easternling was a key figure in over 1,000 former NFL players saying that the NFL had known or should have known the risk of concussions in the game. For the past 20 years Easterling had suffered through depressions and insomnia which can be related to head trauma.

In his playing days Easternling was a defensive started for the Falcons for four years as part of the "Grits Blitz" defense and set a team record of 26 interceptions in 1977. That same year Easternling was part of a Falcons defense that allowed 129 points.

For more on the Falcons go visit The Falcoholic.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.