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Ex-NFL Player's Cause of Death Revealed Over 6 Months Later

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Last July’s death of former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Charles Johnson has been ruled a suicide.

A report released Monday by the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said tests revealed Johnson had “acute oxycodone, hydrocodone and mirtazapine toxicity” after his death, according to USA Today Sports.

“In the previous week, he had been acting strange and had recently purchased a funeral and cremation service,” the report said.

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It was unclear how Johnson obtained the drugs.

“A query of the North Carolina Prescription Monitoring Service showed no active prescriptions. An old (2018) short-term hydrocodone prescription was documented,” the report said, according to the Daily Mail.

The report said the only personal items in the hotel room where Johnson was found dead on July 17 were “two empty bottles of water, an empty travel (sized) bottle of body lotion, an empty travel container, a pair of sandals and a pair of eyeglasses.”

Johnson, 50, was found dead in a Raleigh hotel room less than 10 miles from his house one day after his wife reported him missing, USA Today reported.

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The report said Johnson paid for the hotel room on July 15. Although he made one last trip to his home, he left his wallet, cell phone, keys and vehicle there, the report said.

Johnson, who played for the Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, had been a coach at Heritage High School in Wake Forest, North Carolina.


According to USA Today, Johnson had filed a workers’ compensation case in California against the Steelers, citing problems with hearing, sleep and “neuro/psyche.”

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The case was filed in 2009, with Johnson claiming his injuries came from “playing and practicing professional football.”

In 2013, the Steelers settled the case for $150,000. The case file reviewed by USA Today showed that according to the judgment of three doctors, Johnson was permanently disabled.

Doneka Buckner, a friend, said Johnson at one time had complained of “ringing in the head, maybe one too many hits.”

Buckner said Johnson at one time said he feared he was suffering symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease linked to head injuries suffered by football players.

He said he had not spoken to Johnson in recent years and was unsure of any recent symptoms suffered by the former athlete.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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