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Terry Long

Terry Long was an American athlete who was a professional football player with the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers (1984-91). He started at left guard and remained a fixture in the Pittsburgh Steelers lineup, eventually moving to starting right guard. Standing just 5-foot-11, he was once the smallest offensive lineman in the NFL, but grew to a 284-pound hulking figure on the offensive lines.

At the time of his suicide, Long was under indictment for fraudulently securing loans for a North Side chicken-processing plant that he eventually burned to the ground for more than $1 million in insurance money. Long ran into stiff resistance from neighbors who opposed plans to open a chicken slaughterhouse at the Value Added Food plant, so Long set fire to his plant, destroying it on September 25th, 2003, according to the indictment. Missouri officials also held a warrant for his arrest on a felony theft charge involving a bad check.

Biographical fast facts

Date and place of birth: July 21, 1959, Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.A.

Date, time, place and cause of death: June 7, 2005, at 3:00 p.m., at UPMC Passavant Hospital, McCandless, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.*
(Suicide - ingested antifreeze / meningitis / chronic traumatic encephalopathy)**

Error corrections or clarifications

* One account erroneously placed Long's death at his Franklin Park, Pennsylvania home.

** Long had a history of suicide attempts, including an attempted suicide in 1991 by ingesting an overdose of sleeping pills and rat poison after being suspended for violating the NFL's steroids policy. Additionally, he had spent time at a psychiatric clinic after drinking Drano upon learning of an eight-count federal indictment handed down early in 2005.

Terry Long was facing a maximum of 55 years in prison on charges of fraud and arson, and had been depressed, "lost" and despondent. Initially his cause of death was not clear, so an autopsy was ordered. Even that was inconclusive. Subsequent tests showed Long's brain suffered "repeated mild traumatic injury while playing football." Those repeated injuries made Long's brain more susceptible to the meningitis that reportedly killed him. Later, a revised death certificate was filed, listing the cause of Long's death as suicide from drinking antifreeze. The initial ruling was changed when an outside laboratory discovered the antifreeze in his system.

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