Former Falcons Player Found Dead at 38

By  | 

Shane Dronett, who played 10 years in the NFL and started every game for the Atlanta Falcons' 1998 Super Bowl team, was found dead at his home on Wednesday. He was 38.

According to a statement from the Gwinnett County police
department, officers were called to Dronett's home near Atlanta on
Wednesday morning in response to a possible suicide. Police
spokesman Illana Spellman confirmed Dronett's body was found at the

The medical examiner's office was examining the body to
determine the cause of death.

Dronett played at the University of Texas and was a second-round
pick by Dan Reeves and the Denver Broncos in 1992.

"As a coach, your players are your extended family, and anytime
you lose someone it is like losing a loved one," said David
McWilliams, who coached Dronett at Texas and is now director of the
Longhorn Letter Winners Association. "I will always remember
Shane's wry smile, his laughter, and the fact that he seemed so
full of life. He was a great player, and was one of those rare guys
who even liked practice.

"It is a shock and a tragedy to lose someone so young."

As Atlanta's coach, Reeves brought Dronett to the Falcons in
1996 and said Wednesday the 6-foot-6, 300-pound defensive tackle
was a key player when the Falcons made a run to Super Bowl before
losing 34-19 to Denver in Miami.

"He was an integral part of our football team," Reeves said.
"He was really a good player. He gave us a lot of depth there. He
was a happy go lucky guy. He was fun to be around, was always
smiling and was the type of player you look for on a football

Dronett, from Orange, Texas, is survived by his wife, Chris, and
two daughters.

"My prayers go out for Chris and her two daughters," Reeves
said. "You hate to lose anybody at any time but when your kids are
high school age or younger it makes it tough, and it's tough for

Dronett had 48 tackles and 6½ sacks in 1998 and again made 16
starts and recorded 6½ sacks in 1999.

Dronett made 86 starts and had 44 sacks in 139 career games. He
had 38 tackles and 5½ sacks in 15 games in 2001, his last season as
an active player. He remained on the team's roster before he was
released following the 2002 season.

"The entire Atlanta Falcons family is saddened by the news of
Shane Dronett's passing," owner Arthur Blank said. "Our deepest
condolences are with his family during this difficult time."

Reeves said he most recently saw Dronett at a Falcons reunion
this season. "He was there and looked great," Reeves said.

Reeves said he also recently tried to assist Dronett in a
business venture.