The 23-year-old wide receiver was found dead two days ago at his Colorado home, the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, investigators said.
McKinley never exhibited any behavior “that would alarm us to anything like this,” McDaniels said yesterday during a news conference.
McKinley “was the same kid, happy smile,” McDaniels said of the last time he saw the player, a couple of weeks ago in the National Football League team’s cafeteria.
McKinley, who was selected by the Broncos in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, was put on injured reserve last month with a season-ending knee problem. He appeared in eight games as a rookie last season, being used mostly on special teams.
The player became depressed following knee surgery four weeks ago, an incident report by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s office said.
“He had made statements while playing dominoes shortly after the surgery that he should just kill himself,” the report said. “No one believed he was serious.”
McKinley played college football at the University of South Carolina from 2005-08 and set school records with 207 receptions for 2,781 yards.
McKinley is the third Broncos player to die in four years. Cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting on Jan. 1, 2007, and linebacker Damien Nash collapsed and died two months later while playing in a charity basketball game.
The Broncos will observe a moment of silence and wear a decal with McKinley’s No. 11 when they host the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 26.
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