Former Calgary Stampeder Mike Labinjo dead at the age of 38
'He was a big man, with a big personality to match,' said Stampeders' president John Hufnagel
Former Calgary Stampeders linebacker Mike Labinjo has died at the age of 38.
The team, who Labinjo played for from 2007-10, confirmed Labinjo's death on Saturday. His cause of death was not immediately available.
"We are deeply saddened to learn of Mike's death," John Hufnagel, Stampeders' president and general manager, said in a statement. "He was a big man, with a big personality to match and he was a key part of our Grey Cup championship team in 2008.
"The team offers its condolences to Mike's family and friends."
The six-foot, 285-pound Toronto native played collegiately at Michigan State (2000-03) before being taken in the third round by Calgary in the 2003 CFL draft. During his college football career, Labinjo was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection and named the Spartans' defensive MVP in 2003.
Instead of heading to the CFL, Labinjo signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004. He played in the team's 24-21 Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots.
Labinjo was released by the Eagles during the '05 season and later joined joined the Indianapolis Colts, before ending the campaign with the Miami Dolphins.
He was released by Miami at the end of the season and re-signed with Indianapolis in the off-season, but was let go in May 2007.
In all, Labinjo appeared in 10 career NFL games, registering 19 tackles and a forced fumble.
Key player in Grey Cup win
Labinjo joined the Stampeders on July 16, 2007 and picked up two tackles and four special-teams tackles in six games before suffering a season-ending elbow injury.
The following season, Labinjo had five sacks, tying him for the team lead with Canadian Miguel Robede and Charleston Hughes. He also had 33 regular-season tackles, and registered eight tackles and three sacks in Calgary's 22-18 win over B.C. in the West Division final.
Labinjo was also a key figure for Calgary in its 22-14 Grey Cup win over Montreal with three tackles, one sack and four pass deflections.
The Stampeders dealt Labinjo to Montreal on Jan. 12, 2011 for future considerations, but the Alouettes voided the deal a week later amid concerns of an elbow operation Labinjo had undergone.
Calgary released Labinjo on May 11, 2011, ending his pro football career.
Labinjo appeared in 44 career games with Calgary, recording 61 tackles (nine for a loss), seven special-teams tackles, six sacks, seven knockdowns and two fumble recoveries.
The Stampeders said Labinjo remained in the Alberta city following his football career, working at Solengo Capital and FirstService Residential.
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