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CFL and ex-NFL OL Claridge dead at 27

(March 1, 2006) -- Former Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Travis Claridge, who played for Hamilton of the Canadian Football League last year, died after being found unconscious at his home in Las Vegas, according to the CFL team.

The 27-year-old Claridge died after being taken to a hospital, the team announced. The cause of death was not specified.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family," Tiger-Cats general manager Rob Katz said in a statement. "This is a sad day for the Tiger-Cats family."

The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Claridge joined the Tiger-Cats in 2005, working his way from the practice squad to the starting lineup before a shoulder injury cut his season short.

Claridge, a native of Detroit, started all 48 games he played for the University of Southern California at right guard and was voted the Pac-10's top offensive lineman in 1999.

He was chosen by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round of the 2000 NFL draft and immediately became a starter.

Claridge started 27 games over the next two seasons but was limited to six starts in 2003 because of a knee injury. The Falcons didn't re-sign him following the 2003 season.

He signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2004 as a free agent, but was cut during training camp.

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