NFL

The Tragic Death of Chris Mims, an NFL First-Round Pick Who Wasn’t ‘That Guy’ Anymore

Chris Mims had it all. He was a stud football player who was selected in the first round of the 1992 NFL draft. Mims played in a Super Bowl with the San Diego Chargers. He had fame and fortune, but it all got away from him at the end of his eight-year NFL career. Back in 2008, Mims was found dead in his apartment with the cause of death being an enlarged heart. He was 38.

Chris Mims was a monster on defense

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Chris Mims was a 6-foot-5, 288-pound defensive end who wreaked havoc on the defensive line. Mims played his college football at Tennessee, where he spent two seasons after playing at a junior college. In his two seasons with the Volunteers, Mims recorded 9.5 sacks and finished with 90 tackles.

Mims was selected in the first round of the 1992 NFL draft. He was taken with the 23rd overall pick by the San Diego Chargers. In his first year in the league, he started just four of the 16 games in which he played, but finished with 10 sacks.

He had his best season in 1994 when he recorded career-highs in sacks (11) and forced fumbles (3). The Chargers made their way to the Super Bowl that season, falling to the San Francisco 49ers. Mims played five years with the Chargers before playing one season with the Washington Redskins. He returned to the Chargers for two more seasons.

Mims is one of six members of the 1994 Chargers to die young

Chris Mims played his last year in the NFL in 1999. Mims was signed by the Chicago Bears in 2000, but was waived after he overslept for a practice, according to the Los Angeles Times. Mims had run into some off-the-field problems as well, including assault, vandalism, and driving under the influence.

It appeared Mims had lost his love for the game when he returned to the Chargers for his second stint. “When I first got (to San Diego) I was good for the situation. When I came back (in 1998) I wasn’t good for the situation,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 2000. “I don’t think the coaching staff was comfortable with me. And I wasn’t with them. I was just sitting on the fence and waiting for something to knock me off.”

On Oct. 15, 2008, Mims was found dead in his LA apartment. At the time of his death, Mims weighed 456 pounds. Mims is one of six members of the 1994 San Diego Chargers team to die at a young age. The others are Rodney Culver, Junior Seau, David Griggs, Doug Miller, and Curtis Whitley.

Mims’ friend said he struggled not being ‘that guy’ anymore

24 JAN 1995: SAN DIEGO DEFENSIVE END CHRIS MIMS JOKES WITH THE MEDIA DURING THE CHARGERS PHOTO AND INTERVIEW DAY AT JOE ROBBIE STADIUM IN MIAMI, FLORIDA. THE CHARGERS PLAY THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS IN SUPERBOWL XXIX ON SUNDAY JANUARY 29. Mandatory Credit

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Chris Mims couldn’t take care of himself. He was depressed, drank alone, and was living on disability payments, struggling to make ends meet. Mims’ lifelong friend, Jaime Shepherd, said Mims found it difficult when he wasn’t “that guy” any longer.

“When you play football, you walk into places and you’re the guy,” Shepherd said. “You have this persona and you have money. But once you’re not that guy anymore, you can’t go to the bar and buy everybody’s drinks. You can’t take care of your mother and you can’t take care of your friends.”

According to former teammate Gary Plummer, Mims was a very likable guy. “He was never a problem for the team,” Plummer said, according to the LA Times. “He was just a happy-go-lucky guy. Coaches don’t always like a defensive player who’s jovial and laughing all the time. They want somebody who’s going to go out and rip someone’s head off. That wasn’t Chris.”