Paul Oliver’s Suicide Another Chargers, NFL Heartbreak

Former San Diego Chargers player Paul Oliver in action against the Indianapolis Colts. Photo courtesy of the San Diego Chargers
Former San Diego Chargers player Paul Oliver in action against the Indianapolis Colts. Photo courtesy of the San Diego Chargers

The speculation has already begun surrounding the suicide of former San Diego Chargers defensive back Paul Oliver. The rumor whirlwind is in high gear right now, tossing to and from from one motive possibility to another.

As of right now, no one, outside of law enforcement authorities, knows what exactly caused the ex-NFL star to take his life at the young age of 29. The Chargers released a statement about the sad report.

“Everyone in the Chargers family is sad today after hearing the news about Paul.  He was part of our family for five years.  At just 29 years old, he still had a lifetime in front of him.  Right now all of our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this most difficult time.”

At 29, Oliver should be on threshold of moving into the prime of his life. Instead, he decided to leave behind a wife and two kids with only a memory of what could have been. I don’t recall ever meeting Oliver in my coverage of the Chargers the last couple of years.

But from what I’ve read and heard, Oliver sounded like to be a nice young man.

A nice young man who decided to shoot himself to death. Why? That is the million-dollar question. The question is always why? No one knows for sure (especially us outsiders) truly know what type of demons Oliver was dealing with that caused him to end his young life.

We can speculate all we want about possible brain damage suffered from playing football or other reasons for Oliver’s demise, but I believe that this matter is one that only God knows. Fame, notoriety and money don’t protect you from dealing with life issues, no matter what it is or who you are.

Whenever someone take their own life there is always cause to step back and ask what could have been done beforehand to prevent such action.

I still have a difficult concept imagining how legendary R & B singers Donny Hathaway and the late Phyllis Hyman, two of my favorite entertainers, deciding to end it all with their completed suicide missions. Their unexpected deaths left me and a lot of people heartbroken, as did the out-of-the-blue news that NFL stars Dave Duerson and Junior Seau were finished with living when they both used a gun to leave everything behind.


The traumatic impact of a football player sustaining brain damage is real and should not be ignored. Both Duerson and Seau killed themselves to bring attention to the inescapable brain deterioration they allegedly suffered  as a result of playing football.

Concussions and the number of concussions sustained in sports, particularly those suffered in football, has landed on the nation’s consciousness.

This is where all the attention is going to be in the next few days, weeks and months to come. That is not to say there were probably other factors that led Oliver to committing suicide. But once again, the NFL has another player taking his life. That is not the kind of attention any brand can survive if this keeps happening.

But the layers of suicide are so complicated that it is very difficult to really put your finger on one thing over another. After years of dealing with physical abuse at home and bullying at school, I found myself engaging in that suicidal process at the age of 17.  I remember being beaten down so much-verbally and physically-I lost my will to live.

I had gotten to the point that I couldn’t live with the constant bullying and endure the wicked abuse anymore. I was tired. I went to my high school football stadium bleachers and planned to jump. But as I climbed those empty bleachers, I couldn’t help but think about my mother and how much it would hurt her if I went through with this task.

It is amazing that with 10 brothers and sisters, I would be able to talk to someone about what I was going through. I couldn’t, though. I felt as if I was on an island by myself with no one to talk to. How many suicide victims feel this way? They feel lonely. Low-self esteem  become a part of their being.

Depression then set in motion a dangerous combination that should be avoided at all cost.

That wasn’t enough to save Oliver. What’s incredibly sad about this news is that his two children will never see their father again. A wife will never ride off into the sunset of life with her husband.

A family has now been permanently shaken to its core. Oliver’s other family, his NFL brothers in arms, is no doubt trying to find ways to understand this tragedy. At 29, Oliver’s life was just beginning.

Sometimes there are things that happen in life where there are no real answers for in order to fill the void of hurt, anger and disbelief. What does this all mean? It has to be a maddening experience for those who know Oliver best to go through this right now.

In the meantime, we have to figure out ways to not lose another promising life to the cycle of self-inflicted violence.

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