Cedric Killings, NFL player who suffered broken vertebra on kickoff in 2007, dead at 45

Cedric Killings, a former Houston Texans’ player whose NFL career was cut short when he suffered a fractured vertebra on a kick return in 2007, died after a battle with pancreatic cancer, Carson-Newman University announced last week. He was 45.

Killings played at Carson-Newman before he signed with the San Francisco 49ers in 2000 as an undrafted free agent. He also appeared in games for the Carolina Panthers and Washington.

Cedric Killings and Aaron Brooks

Cedric Killings, #71 of the San Francisco 49ers, tries to sack quarterback Aaron Brooks, #2 of the New Orleans Saints, during the game at 3Com Park in San Francisco. (Tom Hauck  /Allsport)

“Cedric was a fantastic person, player, father, husband, teammate and most importantly, a man of God,” Carson-University head football coach Mike Clowney said in a news release. “We are praying for and grieve with Cedric’s family during this difficult time.”

Killings’ wife, Shavon, also posted about her husband on Facebook.

“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,” she wrote. “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. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting him then you already know how special he is. Just an all around great person. I don’t just say this as his wife, it’s echoed by family, friends, and former teammates. It has been an honor to share life with him, and to love and be loved by him. So grateful for it all. Love you for life.”

Cedric Killings taken off the field

Defensive tackle Cedric Killings, #97 of the Houston Texans, is assisted off the field by medical staff after suffering an injury in the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts Sept. 23, 2007 at Reliant Stadium in Houston. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)


Killings suffered the devastating injury in Week 3 of the 2007 season against the Indianapolis Colts, when he was in a head-on collision during a kickoff. He would never play football again.

After retiring from football, he was an assistant coach at a high school in MIami, where he lived with his wife and three children.

Cedric Killings in 2006

Houston Texans defensive tackle Cedric Killings during 23-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2006. (Kirby Lee/NFLPhotoLibrary)

Killings played in 34 games and had 41 tackles, including three sacks. He was inducted into the South Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2018 as he was honored for his defensive prowess at Carson-Newman.

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