Former defensive tackle Shawn Lee, half the San Diego Chargers' "Two Tons of Fun" from their 1994 AFC championship team passed away Saturday in Raleigh, N.C., from cardiac arrest brought on by double pneumonia, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Tuesday. He was 44.
Lee teamed with fellow 300-plus pounder Reuben Davis to anchor the Chargers' defensive line during their run to the Super Bowl that season. Lee had 39 tackles and 6.5 sacks that season.
Lee played collegiately at North Alabama and was a sixth-round draft choice of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1988. He played two seasons for the Bucs, two more for the Miami Dolphins and then landed with the Chargers in 1992. His six seasons in San Diego were his most productive as a professional. He played one season in Chicago in 1998 then retired.
Lee is the sixth player from the Chargers' only Super Bowl team to die.
The first to die was linebacker David Griggs, 28, killed in a car crash in June 1995. Running back Rodney Culver was 26 when he perished in a 1996 plane crash. Not one, but two bolts of lightning struck linebacker Doug Miller, 28, during his 1998 death. Curtis Whitley, who'd been released by the Chargers in '94, died of a 2008 drug overdose at 39. And fellow defensive lineman Chris Mims was 38 when he died due to heart failure in 2008.
"Not again," said former Chargers running back Natrone Means, referring to the news of Lee's death. "It's crazy, just crazy, that we've had so many guys who have fallen. I can't make any sense of it. I've given up trying. You just hope you quit getting these random messages out of nowhere that another teammate has passed away.
"Look at Shawn. He was a big man, a man's man, no doubt about it. I can't believe he's gone, too."
Means and Davis, who remained a lifelong friend of Lee's, recalled a gentle giant.
"The average fan would take a look at him and be scared to go up and talk to him, but he was great to people," said Means. "He'd do anything in the world for you."
Davis, who lived an hour away from Lee, added: "Heart of gold. The man never had an enemy, and that's hard to say about a lot of people. He just had such a different sort of wisdom about him."