Cedric Killings, who retired from NFL after fracturing neck, dies from cancer at 45

He is survived by his wife of 21 years and their three children.

Former NFL player Cedric Killings passed away last week from pancreatic cancer at age 45, his alma mater, Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee, announced in a statement.

Killings played with Carson-Newman head football coach Mike Clowney during the 1996 season, Yahoo reports via Parade. Clowney said, “Cedric was a fantastic person, player, father, husband, teammate and most importantly, a man of God. We are praying for and grieve with Cedric’s family during this difficult time.”

Houston Texans 2007 Headshots
Cedric Killings of the Houston Texans poses for his 2007 NFL headshot at photo day in Houston. (Photo by Getty Images)

Killings joined the NFL in 2000 and played eight seasons for the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, and Houston Texans. His professional football career ended when he suffered a fractured vertebra in a head-on collision with the Colts’ Roy Hall on Sept. 23, 2007, Yahoo reports.

“My mind was racing,” Killings said at the time in an interview with The Houston Chronicle. “It was scary. I just couldn’t figure out what was going on and why I wasn’t getting up.”

Following his recovery, Killings remained hopeful for the day he would return to the football field — but he never played again.

After retiring from the sport, Killings served as assistant football coach at Carol City High School in Miami Gardens, Florida, according to Yahoo. He also participated in the Miami Dolphins summer program, which teaches proper technique and enhances player safety.

Killings had an award-winning tenure in college football and was inducted into Carson-Newman University’s Hall of Fame in 2016. He was inducted into the South Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2018, Fox News reports. 

Killings leaves behind his wife of 21 years, Shavon, and their three children, according to Yahoo. Shavon shared a tribute to her husband on Facebook after his passing. As Yahoo reports, she wrote in part, “My love, my best friend, my husband of 21 years is no longer physically with me but he lives in my heart and in the hearts of our 3 children.”

Her statement continued, “I’m comforted in knowing he is resting and no longer in pain, but I’m still at a loss and can’t believe this is real.”

“It has been an honor to share life with him, and to love and be loved by him,” Shavon wrote.

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