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Police: Ex-NFL player shot himself in head in front of wife, sons

Posted at 7:25 PM, Oct 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-02 16:39:42-04

ATLANTA (CNN) — Former NFL defensive back Paul Oliver, who committed suicide last week in his Georgia home, shot himself in the head in front of his wife and two young sons, the police report on the incident said.

The report, obtained by CNN, said Oliver, 29, was depressed about the end of his career and marital issues. He hadn’t played pro football since the 2011 season.

“Paul has been somewhat depressed over being released, and ending his professional football career,” his wife, Chelsea Oliver, told police in the report.

She also said the couple had been having problems. Her husband was unhappy with their relationship, she said, and had started talking about a divorce.

Chelsea Oliver told Cobb County Police that her husband, who played six seasons in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers, had made statements in the past about wanting to end his life. But, the report says, “He was never specific and the police have never been called regarding any suicide threats or attempts.”

On September 24, Chelsea Oliver said her husband had been drinking alcohol and the two argued.

“They had an argument and Paul shoved Chelsea while they were in their garage. Chelsea was not injured. She did not call police about their argument or about her being shoved,” the report said.

At that point, Chelsea Oliver took their two sons, ages 2 and 1, and went for a walk in the neighborhood. When they returned, the couple started arguing again.

She told police that the family was standing in the foyer of their home, when Paul Oliver jumped over the baby gate and ran up the staircase. He went into the bedroom and came back holding a handgun. According to the report, Paul Oliver told his wife that he was going to do it “in front of her.”

He pointed the gun toward the ceiling and fired one round, startling the family, the report said. Then he began walking down the stairs, put the handgun to the side of his head and fired one round. He fell the rest of the way down the stairs into the baby gate.

Police recovered a .40 caliber Glock Model 22 handgun at the scene. There was nothing there to indicate foul play, the investigating officer wrote in the report.

Patrick Oliver, Paul Oliver’s brother, was supposed to meet the former football player for dinner. He was nearly at Paul Oliver’s neighborhood when Paul called, telling him to “go home.” He could tell that Paul was upset, but he didn’t think he was going to harm himself, Patrick Oliver told police.

No one from Paul Oliver’s family has responded to CNN’s phone calls about the incident.

Oliver played for the Chargers from 2007 to 2011, recording 144 tackles in 57 games. He also had a stellar college career at the University of Georgia.

His death marks the latest in a string of suicides among former professional football players. In some cases, the players were found to have suffered previously from brain injuries, but it’s not known if that had anything to do with Oliver’s case.

Star NFL linebacker Junior Seau was 43 when he took his own life in May 2012. The National Institutes of Health later found he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a neurodegenerative brain disease that can follow multiple hits to the head.

Former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, 62, committed suicide in April 2012. An autopsy found signs of CTE.

A study published in December in the journal Brain looked at brain tissue of 34 professional football players after they died. All but one showed evidence of disease.