Former N.C. State quarterback and longtime NFL player Erik Kramer was hospitalized on Tuesday night after a reported suicide attempt at a motel in Calabasas, Calif.
Kramer, 50, suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound, according to NBC News.
Marshawn Kramer told NBC News that her former husband has been suffering from depression that she believes is related to his playing career. Kramer played two seasons for N.C. State, a first-team All-ACC pick in 1985 and ’86, and for five NFL teams in 10 seasons.
In 1991, Kramer helped lead the Detroit Lions to a 12-4 record, a playoff win and a spot in the NFC Championship Game.
His most productive pro seasons came with the Chicago Bears in the mid-1990s. He threw for 3,838 yards and 29 touchdowns as the Bears’ starter in 1995.
But those seasons came at a price, Kramer’s former wife believes.
"He is a very amazing man, a beautiful soul, but he has suffered depression since he was with the Bears," Marshawn Kramer said in an interview with NBC News. "I can promise you he is not the same man I married."
The connection between concussions and mental health in former players has been one of the biggest challenges facing the NFL at a time of unprecedented popularity and financial success.
The league agreed to pay a $765 million settlement to more than 18,000 retired players with concussion-related brain injuries in Aug. 2013.
Kramer’s apparent attempted suicide comes after two high-profile suicides, by former stars Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, spurred the lawsuit by the former players.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department found Kramer at the motel at 11 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday night and he was airlifted to a hospital.
The past few years have been difficult for Kramer, who went through a divorce in 2010 and the loss of his son, Griffen, who was 18 when he died of heroin overdose in 2011.
Kramer, who is from Burbank, Calif., came to N.C. State after two years at a California junior college. The Wolfpack went 3-8 in his first season in 1985 but he threw for 2,510 yards and 16 touchdowns and was voted All-ACC.
In ’86, the first for coach Dick Sheridan, Kramer led the Wolfpack to an 8-3-1 turn around and was named the ACC player of the year.
Undrafted out of college, Kramer’s first NFL break came as a replacement player during the 1987 players’ strike. He spent three seasons in the Canadian Football League before getting back to the NFL with the Lions in 1991.
After three seasons in Detroit, and five the Bears, Kramer signed with the San Diego Chargers but retired in 1999 due to a neck injury.