Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley, who is thought to have killed himself with a gunshot to the head, had made previous statements about committing suicide, according to a sheriff's investigative report released Tuesday.
The Arapahoe County Sheriff's report quoted one investigator as saying McKinley had been depressed over a knee surgery he had a month ago.
"He had made statements while playing dominoes shortly after the surgery that he should just kill himself," the officer reported. "No one believed he was serious."
The report provided no explanation for the source of the investigator's information.
The report also said McKinley had made statements about not knowing what he would do without football. It said McKinley had flown to South Carolina 10 days earlier to see his young son and had brought him back with him to Denver on Sunday night.
Two female friends who were taking care of his son discovered McKinley's body Monday and called 911. Detectives who responded to his home a few miles from the Broncos headquarters found McKinley's body with a pillow over his head and a .45-calibre semiautomatic pistol on top of the pillow. They also noted a strong odour of freshly burned marijuana, according to the report.
The officers said the NFL Network was on the television in the bedroom.
The report also said McKinley was taking 500 mg naproxen tablets, which is in a class of anti-inflammatories called NSAIDS, but listed no other medications.
Arapahoe County Coroner Michael Dobersen said Tuesday that McKinley died of a gunshot wound to the head. He said a preliminary investigation "suggests the wound to be self-inflicted."
Brittany Boyd, the wife of former Broncos running back Cory Boyd, who was McKinley's best friend and college teammate, was one of the two women who were taking care of McKinley's toddler son when they discovered McKinley had shot himself.
She told The Associated Press she didn't know who told the investigators that McKinley had mentioned suicide — "That wasn't from us," she said — but added that she wouldn't be surprised if nobody would have taken such a threat seriously.
"If it had been said to me, I probably would have been like, 'Yeah, whatever, Kenny.' It would have completely gone over my head," she said. "That's not the type of thing he would say and if he did say it, that's not the type of thing that you would take seriously coming from him.
"Because of his personality, because of who he is, nobody would have ever believed he would have done it."
Boyd, who lives in Denver, said she flew to Columbia, S.C., on Tuesday to take McKinley's son, Keon, who is almost two, back to the boy's mother, Shayla Lites.
Boyd said she had picked up McKinley and his son at the Denver airport Sunday night and nothing seemed amiss.
"He was just excited about having his son here. He showed no signs of depression, no signs of awkwardness. He was 100 per cent himself," Boyd said. "He was 100 per cent Kenny, laughing and joking, playing. And he was absolutely normal, he was fine."
She did say, however, that she could tell over the last month that McKinley was having a hard time with not being able to play football or be around his teammates every day. But she said it wasn't like he was struggling to the point anyone feared he would harm himself.
She said neither she nor her friend who was helping take care of the boy knew McKinley had a gun.
"We had no idea," she said. "Nobody knew."
McKinley's teammates and coaches said Tuesday that they didn't see any hint the gregarious 23-year-old wide receiver was suicidal. Neither did the players at his alma mater, South Carolina, when he visited them earlier this month.
"I actually saw Kenny a week and a half ago. He was over here picking up some stuff out of his locker," Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. "He was always a guy that used to love to joke with me and I would joke back and forth with him. But he had a big smile on his face. He just walked out of the building.
"And that's the last thing we remember, that huge smile. Like coach said, he always showed every tooth in his mouth, just smiling and being happy."
This is the third time in four years the Broncos have had to deal with the death of a teammate under stunning circumstances. Cornerback Darrent Williams, 24, was slain in a drive-by shooting on New Year's Day 2007, and three months later running back Damien Nash, 24, collapsed and died after a charity basketball game in St. Louis.
Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said in a tearful news conference Tuesday that nobody with the Broncos sensed any warning signs from McKinley about his state of mind.
"We've all seen him recently. He's been the same person every time we see him. Liked junk food and chips and things like that," McDaniels said. "He was in the cafeteria, or in the training room, when we were seeing him the last so many weeks here. Nothing that would alarm us to anything like this."