An accidental valium overdose was suspected in the death of Carl Monroe, a popular former San Francisco 49er who was seeking to resume his career in the Canadian Football League after battling alcoholism.
Police said Monroe, 29, who was a star running back at the University of Utah and who had recently separated from his wife, had been taking the tranquilizer on doctor's orders but if he had taken an overdose it apparently was accidental."There seemed to be no emotional problems and no tensions," Sgt. Walter Robinson said. "There's nothing to indicate he was depressed."
The Santa Clara County Coroner's Office said the official cause of death would not be determined until toxicology tests were completed, which could take several weeks.
Monroe, who spent four years with the 49ers as a wide receiver and kick return specialist and was a member of the Super Bowl XIX championship team, died Wednesday. He was found unconscious at his apartment in San Jose and doctors at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center were unable to revive him.
San Francisco running back Roger Craig, shaken by the former teammate's sudden death, went to the hospital.
"He said he had to see (Monroe's body) for himself," Monroe's brother Tyrone said. "He told me to try to be strong."
Monroe had been working out regularly and had just signed a contract with the British Columbia Lions of the CFL, his brother said.
"Things were just starting to happen for him again," Tyrone Monroe said. "It's sad to see someone go through so much. People had always said he wasn't big enough, that he wasn't fast enough, that he wouldn't quit his drinking, and he proved them all wrong.
"I know he would have proved them wrong again too."Comment on this story
The high point of Monroe's career was catching a 35-yard pass that gave the 49ers their first touchdown in their 38-16 Super Bowl victory over the Miami Dolphins in 1985.
Three weeks later, he checked into an alcoholic rehabilitation program at Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame. Two weeks before the Super Bowl, he had been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in San Jose.
Monroe's four-year NFL career was spent with the 49ers. He joined the team as a free agent in 1983. He was not taken in the NFL draft because of his size, 5-foot-8, 170 pounds.
Monroe, a native of Pittsburgh, was selected all-WAC while leading the nation in all-purpose running and kickoff return average as a senior at the University of Utah 1982. He played in the Blue-Gray Game and Senior Bowl.