Ex-Falcons linebacker Thomas Howard was one of two people killed in a fiery car crash in Oakland early Monday.
California Highway Patrol officials told media that witnesses said a black BMW driven by Howard was traveling on a highway at more than 100 mph when it collided with the rear of a semi-truck. The impact forced the BMW into the opposite lane and crash into a Honda CRV, witnesses told police.
Police said Howard, 30, and the driver of the Honda, Zeng Long Liu, 64, were killed at the scene.
Howard was signed to a free-agent contract by the Falcons on Oct. 22. He played in two games as a reserve before the Falcons released him Tuesday to clear a roster space for the return of Sean Weatherspoon from short-term injured reserve.
Weatherspoon said he and Howard shared the same agent, David L. Dunn.
“It’s tough,” Weatherspoon said. “He was just here. That’s a guy I was close with. I met him a few years back at an event. I really enjoyed my friendship with him. My heart goes out to his family. I have them all in my prayers.”
The Raiders selected Howard in the second round of the 2006 draft out of Texas-El Paso. He played five seasons for the Raiders and was with the Bengals from 2011 until suffering a season-ending knee injury during the first game of the 2012 season.
Goldson suspended: The NFL in Monday suspended Tampa Bay safety Dashon Goldson for one game without pay for his helmet-to-helmet hit against Falcons wide receiver Roddy White during Sunday’s game.
Goldson was penalized for unnecessary roughness on the play, which came in second quarter. White was deemed to be a defenseless receiver under league player-safety rules.
It was Goldson’s third violation of the 2013 season. He also struck a defenseless player against the New York Jets and was initially suspended for another helmet-to-helmet hit in Week 2 against New Orleans before the panalty was reduced on appeal to a $100,000 fine.
White, informed of the Goldson suspension, said “that’s terrible” for Goldson, whom he is acquainted with off the field. White said he didn’t think Goldson intentionally hit him in the head.
“I guess it’s just that he continues to be a repeat offender,” White said. “That’s a tough situation. I don’t even think he really meant to do it. I reached back for the ball and kind of turned my body around right to him. If I don’t reach back then he just hits me in the back.”
White said the the league fined him $15,000 for twice slapping the helmet of Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman during Atlanta’s 33-10 defeat to Seattle on Nov. 10.
Snelling sorry: Falcons reserve running back Jason Snelling publicly apologized to his family, teammates, coaches and team owner Arthur Blank for his arrest on marijuana charges.
“I made a mistake,” Snelling said in a statement to reporters Monday. “I’m very apologetic about it and I’m ready to move forward.”
Snelling, 29, did not play in Sunday’s 41-28 defeat at Tampa Bay. He said it was his decision to not join the team in Tampa Bay.
“I regret and (am) very sorry for not being there with my teammates and I hope they can forgive me for the situation that happened,” he said.
The Barrow County Times, citing a Winder Police Department report, said police observed Snelling’s vehicle unable to stay in its lane early Friday morning. An officer smelled marijuana in his vehicle and Snelling was booked into the Barrow County jail at 6:42 a.m., according to the Times.
Thanks for the support: Falcons coach Mike Smith said he appreciates Blank’s public support for him after the loss at Tampa Bay dropped the team to 2-8 in a season that began with aspirations to play in the Super Bowl. Blank said he he had full confidence that Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff can make the necessary changes to change the team’s fortunes.
“It means a whole lot to have the support of Arthur, Thomas, Rich [McKay, Falcons president] knowing that we are not playing the type of football that we need to play,” Smith said. “They are very supportive.”