Former N.C. State quarterback and longtime NFL player Erik Kramer was hospitalized Tuesday night after a reported suicide attempt at a motel in Calabasas, Calif.
Kramer, 50, suffered a gunshot wound that was not life threatening, according to NBC News.
Marshawn Kramer told NBC News that her former husband suffered from depression that she believes is related to his playing career. Kramer played two seasons for N.C. State and was a first-team All-ACC pick in 1985 and ’86. He went on to play for five NFL teams in 10 seasons until retiring in 1999.
In 1991, Kramer helped lead the Detroit Lions to a 12-4 record, a playoff win and a spot in the NFC championship game.
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His most productive pro seasons came with the Chicago Bears in the mid-1990s. He threw for 3,838 yards and 29 touchdowns as the Bears’ starter in 1995.
But those seasons came at a price, Kramer’s former wife believes.
“He is a very amazing man, a beautiful soul, but he has suffered depression since he was with the Bears,” Kramer said. “I can promise you he is not the same man I married.”
The connection between concussions and mental health in former players has been one of the biggest challenges facing the NFL at a time of unprecedented popularity and financial success.
Last November, the league agreed to pay nearly $1 billion as part of a lawsuit settlement with more than 18,000 retired players seeking care for brain-related injuries and the long-term health effects of concussions.
Kramer’s apparent attempted suicide came after two high-profile suicides, by former stars Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, spurred the lawsuit by the former players. Both Seau and Duerson used a self-inflicted gun shot to the chest to commit suicide in an attempt to preserve their bodies to be studied for a possible connection to brain trauma.
Details from Kramer’s case are still scarce. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department found Kramer at the motel at 11 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday night and he was airlifted to a hospital.
The past few years have been difficult for Kramer, who went through a divorce in 2010 and the loss of his son, Griffen, who was 18 when he died of heroin overdose in 2011.
Kramer, who is from Burbank, Calif., came to N.C. State after two years at a California junior college. The Wolfpack went 3-8 during his first season in 1985 but he threw for 2,510 yards and 16 touchdowns.
In 1986, the first for coach Dick Sheridan, Kramer led the Wolfpack to an 8-3-1 record and was named the ACC player of the year.
Undrafted out of college, Kramer’s first NFL break came as a replacement player during the 1987 players strike. He spent three seasons in the Canadian Football League before getting back to the NFL with the Lions in 1991.
After three seasons in Detroit, and five the Bears, Kramer signed with the San Diego Chargers but retired in 1999 because of a neck injury.