Former CFLer's death an accident

One-time Hamilton Tiger-Cats lineman Travis Claridge was intoxicated with the painkiller oxycodone when he died of pneumonia on Feb. 28 in Las Vegas

Hamilton Tiger-Cats lineman Travis Claridgewas intoxicated with the painkiller oxycodone when he died of pneumonia on Feb. 28 in Las Vegas.

The Canadian Football League player's death was ruled an accident, a sudden death caused by acute pneumonia, according to a report released Monday by the Clark County Coroner's office in the Nevada city.

Samantha Charles, a spokesperson with the coroner's office, told the Hamilton Spectator policy prohibits the release of detailed toxicology and post-mortem reports.

But she did state the 300-pound Claridge, who joined the Tiger-Cats last September, had an enlarged heart.

Oxycodone, if taken in excess, can depress the respiratory system. The strong painkiller produces euphoria similar to narcotics like morphine and cocaine and is also highly addictive.

Sold as OxyContin, the drug has become a controversial prescription drug. The United States Food and Drug Administration has criticized OxyContin's makers for aggressive marketing tactics.

Ticats personnel said Claridge complained of flu-like symptoms and lethargy prior to his death.

His girlfriend found him in bed and called for help after a failed attempt to awake the former National Football League player.

Hamilton coach Greg Marshall said players are prescribed oxycodone by team doctors but only for periods of a few days when the pain of injuries or surgery is very intense.

He emphasized the drug in Claridge's blood couldn't have been prescribed by Tiger-Cats staff when you consider the timeline of the player's death.

Marshall believes the pneumonia probably would have been detected had Claridge been in Hamilton shortly before his passing.

"We take very good care of our players when they're here, but they're adults and have to care of themselves when they're not here," Marshall said.

"It's so sad. Travis was one of a kind. He loved football and he had a gentle heart. There was no attitude in him at all."

with files from Canadian Press