The Tragic Death of Super Bowl Champion Tyler Sash

Former New York Giants safety Tyler Sash had everything going for him in 2012.

A former All-Big Ten safety at Iowa, Sash concluded his first NFL season by winning a Super Bowl alongside Justin Tuck and a fierce New York Giants defense.

It appeared Sash had a bright future ahead under veteran head coach Tom Coughlin. However, injuries and concussions took their toll, and Sash died a few years later at age 27.

Tyler Sash starred at the University of Iowa

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Tyler Sash quickly proved to be the heart and soul of Iowa’s defense in the late 2000s.

In 37 games and 34 starts at Iowa, Sash hauled in 13 interceptions and totaled 217 tackles — including 11.5 for a loss — from 2008-10. One of those interceptions went for an 86-yard score against Indiana in 2009.

Sash earned All-Big Ten honors after the 2009 and 2010 season.

Rather than return for his redshirt senior season in 2011, Sash opted to enter the NFL draft.

Sash won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants

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The New York Giants used a sixth-round pick on Tyler Sash in 2011, and the results quickly paid off. 

Sash found a home on special teams, totaling 17 tackles and a forced fumble in all 16 games that season. He added seven tackles in four postseason games, a run which ended with the Giants taking down Tom Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowl 46. 

Sash served a four-game suspension early in the 2012 season after he tested positive for Adderall, a banned substance. According to ESPN, Sash took medicine to help him with public speaking. 

In a now-deleted tweet, Sash wrote that a doctor prescribed him Adderall for his anxiety.

“I had no idea that this prescription drug was banned by NFL policy. Although I take full responsibility for this situation, I also want to state that I have never cheated or taken performance-enhancing drugs, and I frown on those who do. I am highly disappointed by the league’s decision in this matter, but I will continue to do my best on and off the field.”

Sash had nine tackles in seven games during the 2012 season. New York cut Sash before the 2013 season, and he never played in the NFL again. 

Tyler Sash died of an overdose at age 27

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On Sept. 5, 2015, Tyler Sash asked an innocent question on Twitter.

“Is the Iowa State game on Direct [sic] TV?” Sash wrote. “If so, what channel ?”

Three days later, Sash died of a drug overdose at his home in Iowa. According to The New York Times, a medical examiner called Sash’s overdose “accidental drug toxicity” from taking methadone and hydrocodone, two painkillers. 

Sash had suffered at least five concussions in the NFL. The 27-year-old had recently dislocated his shoulder before he died. 

In a 2012 interview with The Gazette (Iowa), Sash provided his thoughts on the league’s rising concussion epidemic.

“It’s just part of the game. I know they’re trying to do everything that they can with the rules to protect players, but at the end of the day it’s a bunch of grown men playing a game where it’s legal to go hit people. I feel I’ve dished out a lot more than I’ve received.”

Representatives from Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation analyzed Sash’s brain after his death. They found Sash suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a brain disease linked to head trauma. 

Doctors graded Sash’s CTE at Stage 2. The CTE scale goes from 0-4, with four being the worst.

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.