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Twenty years ago, we lost Korey Stringer

GENERAL INFORMATION: Korey Stringer photos from the 2000 season IN THIS PHOTO: Minnesota Viking right tackle Korey Stringer, center, sits on the bench with teammate Corbin Lacina, left, during a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Metrodome in Jan

Last night, before the team’s practice at TCO Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings paid tribute to the late Korey Stringer.

It’s really hard to believe that Korey Stringer has been gone for twenty years. I can still remember what I was doing when I heard the news. . .I was on my way to Maxwell AFB to get some paperwork in order before going overseas for a few months. This was back in the days before satellite radio, so I spent most of the trip scanning for AM radio stations on my three-hour drive so that I could keep up with the latest news about what had happened. I couldn’t believe what was going on. . .still can’t, honestly.

Korey Stringer died as a result of exertional heatstroke during the Vikings’ practice that day. He had been embarrassed by a photo that had been taken of him during a previous day’s practice, according to Kevin Seifert of ESPN (who at the time was a Vikings’ beat writer in the Twin Cities), and was determined to push through practices despite the symptoms going forward. A combination of overexertion and dehydration ultimately led to his collapse on the field in Mankato that day.

Seifert’s article tells us that Stringer’s passing has led to numerous innovations around the NFL over the 20 years since. The Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut has been a leader in research to prevent heat-related injuries and has led to numerous states and high schools adopting protocols aimed at preventing the same sorts of injuries that led to Stringer’s death.

With today marking two decades since Korey Stringer’s passing, it’s important that the big man is being remembered by the team as well as by us fans. If you haven’t read the entire article by Kevin Seifert that’s linked above, take some time to check it out. If there is any solace to be taken from Korey Stringer’s death, it’s that it has led to many new innovations and measures to prevent the same thing from happening to countless athletes in different sports around the country.

Rest In Peace, Korey.