Keith McCants, a former NFL player who the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted in 1990, was found dead in his home in Florida on Thursday, according to ESPN. He was 53 years old. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s office said in an email to ESPN that deputies were called to McCants’ home at 5:10 a.m. local time. He was dead where others who made the 911 call lived.
“It appears it was a drug overdose, but we are awaiting confirmation from the medical examiner’s office,” sheriff’s spokesperson Amanda Sinni said. “This is still an open investigation.” McCants was arrested several times for possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia over the years. Robert Blackmon, a mayoral candidate in St. Petersburg, Florida and McCants’ longtime friend said that the former NFL linebacker decided to turn his life around in 2010.
My statement on the passing of my brother, Keith McCants. I love you my friend. I hope you’ve finally found the peace we fought so hard to get you. pic.twitter.com/fuaNtjfQej
— Robert Blackmon (@RobertGBlackmon) September 2, 2021
“This morning, we lost that battle,” Blackmon said in a Facebook post, adding that McCants had hip replacement surgery in May.”We began to talk about his future again. The next 20 years. Buying a boat. His signature grin was back. But for every battle I could help him fight, there were others he had to face alone.”
McCants played college football at the University of Alabama where he helped the team win the SEC Championship in 1989. He was also selected to the All-SEC and All-American First Team that same year while also being named Nationa Defensive Player of the Year by CBS, finishing the season with 119 tackles and four sacks. At the start of his NFL career, McCants spent his first three seasons with the Buccaneers, and his best season was in 1992 when he posted 58 tackles and five sacks. He would then move on to the Houston Oilers where he would spend nearly two seasons. McCants would then spend the rest of his career with the Arizona Cardinals and would finish with 192 career tackles and 13.5 career sacks.
Rest In Peace to former Alabama All-American linebacker, Keith McCants.
The former NFL star and 1989 Iron Bowl MVP passed away Thursday. He was 53 years old. 🐘🙏 pic.twitter.com/1kWsmprWgf
— Alabama Crimson Tide | AL.com (@aldotcomTide) September 2, 2021
“Before [my career was] over with I was consuming over 183 pills a week, not knowing the effects it had on my liver or my kidneys,” McCants told Vice Sports in 2015, per CBS Sports. “Or, more importantly, developing a split personality with violent tendencies that my family had to deal with.”