September 21, 2010

In Memory of Kenny McKinley – 1987 – 2010

Injured Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley was found dead late today the 20th of September. Authorities were called to McKinley’s apartment in Arapahoe County at about 4 p.m. this afternoon were he was found. They found McKinley in the second-floor master bedroom, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot. He was reportedly experiencing depression after being placed on injured reserve and was also going through financial issues.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson confirmed McKinley's death, and said he was waiting on a field report from investigators before releasing more information this evening.

Robinson said authorities were called by a female friend of McKinley’s who discovered the body after returning from an errand with his child. The sheriff declined to say if authorities found a suicide note.

"It was apparently a suicide, but we're still investigating," he said.

It is very sad that such a young and talented man took his own life. He must of been in a terrible time in his life and was struggling to deal with his demons. This is a very sad day for Broncos Country as they have lost another one of their beloved sons.

"Everyone with the Broncos is shocked and saddened by the loss of Kenny McKinley," President and CEO Pat Bowlen said. "He was part of the Broncos family and will be greatly missed by our organization. My most heartfelt condolences go out to Kenny's family and friends."

"Kenny had a promising future on the football field, but more importantly, he was a great teammate whose smile and personality could light up the room," Head Coach Josh McDaniels said. "This is a tragic loss for our football team, and his family is in all of our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

Like Coach McD said Kenny was a guy that always had a smile on his face and seemed to be enjoying being a Bronco.

An NFL source told The Denver Post that McKinley had been in Atlanta visiting family recently but had returned to Denver on Sunday. McKinley is survived by a young son, Keon.

McKinley recently visited Columbia, S.C., where he watched his alma mater play the University of Georgia on Sept. 11. He was announced to the crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium and received a large applause.
"I saw him here. He came to the Georgia game. He seemed in good spirits," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier told The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier Monday night. "He had a great smile, like he always had. I don't understand it, if it happened the way they say. It's hard to comprehend.

"Kenny was certainly one of my favorite all-time players," Spurrier added. "He was one of them. He was a wonderful guy. It's hard to figure out how, or why, this happened. He's one of my all-time favorites — everything about him. He had a wonderful smile. It's a sad day."

The news of McKinley's death spread quickly at the end of South Carolina's practice Monday. Players who normally sprint off the field upbeat walked slowly with their heads down.

"Kenny, he had a big heart, a love for life. It's just very shocking," said Andrew Bondarowicz, McKinley's agent. "I'm really at a loss for words.

The Life of McKinley
McKinley was born in Mableton, Georgia to parents Ken and Karen. He graduated from South Cobb High School in Austell, Georgia in 2005 as a multi-position player, but he primarily played quarterback. During his senior year, he passed for 1,470 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for 750 yards while scoring 12 touchdowns. He ran for 400 yards and eight touchdowns while throwing for 1,575 yards and 12 scores as a junior in 2003. He earned all-county honors as a junior and senior. He was rated the 29th-best athlete in the state of Georgia and the 54th-best athlete in the country by

After leaving South Cobb High School McKinley attended the University of South Carolina. As a true freshman in 2005, he worked his way into the starting line-up at wide receiver and also handled the punt return duties. He started six games and ranked third on the team with 25 catches for 291 yards and returned 18 punts for 83 yards. He caught three passes for a season-high 58 yards in the win at Arkansas, including a 42-yard reception for his first career touchdown, which proved to be the game-winner.

During his sophomore year in 2006, McKinley started all 13 games and recorded 51 receptions and 880 yards. That ranked second on the team behind another soon-to-be NFL player Sidney Rice. His best game was an eight-catch, 110-yard effort against Auburn, the first 100-yard receiving day in his career. He had another great game when he had a three-catch, 112-yard performance in the Liberty Bowl that included a pair of fourth-quarter, 43-yard touchdown receptions. He also returned 17 punts for 151 yards, an average of 8.9 yards per return (seventh in the SEC) with a long of 21 yards. And was also given the Carolina Hustle Award following spring drills. He averaged 17.3 yards per catch that year.

Before the start of McKinley's junior year in 2007, Sidney Rice decided to forego the remainder of his college eligibility to enter the 2007 NFL Draft. This made McKinley's the Gamecocks’ top returning wide receiver in 2007.

He would go on to earn first-team honors from the SEC coaches (All-SEC), the Associated Press and CollegeFootballNews. He was second-team All-SEC by and honorable mention All-America honors from

Despite playing with turf toe most of the year, as the Gamecocks’ #1 receiver, McKinley not only led the team but led the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in receptions (a school-record 77), receptions per game (6.42) and in receiving yards per game (80.7). He also was number one at South Carolina in yards (968) and touchdowns (9). He had four 100-yard receiving games in 2007, including a school record 14 catch performance against Tennessee where he had a career-best 151 yards. He has a number of standout games against Clemson, Georgia and Mississippi State. He had four 100-yard receiving games, three against SEC opponents and one against Clemson, and has six in his career. He was given the Ernest A. Brooks Memorial Award for the MVP of the Carolina-Clemson game and shared the Joe Morrison Award as the Offensive Player of the spring with Blake Mitchell.

In 2008, McKinley entered his senior year as an All-America candidate that was in position to break every South Carolina school career receiving records. He began the 2008 campaign ranked tied for fourth in career receptions (153), sixth in career receiving yards (2,139) and tied for sixth in receiving touchdowns (15) in Carolina history. The school records were held by Sterling Sharpe (169 receptions and 2,497 receiving yards) and Sidney Rice (23 touchdown catches). Despite being out of the lineup for a three-game stretch due to a right hamstring strain, he set school career records for receptions and receiving yards, while also closing out his career second on the school's all-time touchdown catches list. McKinley also placed his name in the SEC record books. He finished the 2008 season with 54 receptions, 642 receiving yards and 4 touchdown catches. His 207 total receptions placed third in conference annals, becoming just the fifth SEC player to amass more than 200 catches in a career. He also became the 12th player in league history to record more than 2,700 receiving yards (2,781).

His head coach Steve Spurrier had called him the best receiver he has ever coached.

Leading into the 2009 NFL Draft there was a number of scouting reports out that had been projecting McKinley as a 3rd to 4th round pick. And they had a similar analysis, here are a few on McKinley:

The Good: A tall, fluid receiver who displays great footwork and change-of-direction skills in all areas of his game. Gets up to speed quickly and plays a lot faster than his times indicate. Transitions very well in and out of his breaks and showcases the burst to separate on all levels of the field. Pays close attention to detail and runs sharp, precise routes. Extends well and has the hands to make plays away from his body.
The Bad: Has a thin, frail-looking build and lacks power on contact. Struggles as a blocker, and if he can’t beat press coverage cleanly, he struggles fighting through the hand battles. Needs to displays better concentration over the middle.

Positives: Good initial quickness off the snap. Not a real physical player, but uses his hands and lateral quickness well to get a clean release off the line of scrimmage. Savvy route-runner. Good short-area burst and is a cognizant route-runner. Varies his speed and utilizes his good body control to generate separation against tight coverage. Reliable hands for the reception. Strong hands to snatch the ball out of the air. Good body control to contort in space and make the difficult reception. Knows where the sticks and sidelines are. Can take a pop and hang on. Wastes no time getting upfield after the reception. Good vision in the open field and can generate positive yards after the reception.
Negatives: Lanky, almost skinny build that could use additional mass, but not at the expense of losing speed, another area of concern. Lacks the straight-line speed to challenge deep or to break away after a short or intermediate reception. Can be caught from behind. Characterized as a tough player, but can be intimidated with a good pop early. Can get alligator arms going over the middle.

Injuries had never been a problem for McKinley, but they are starting to creep up so that could be a concern among NFL scouts. He had surgery on his big toe during this past off-season, but was ready to go well before the start of the regular season. He strained a hamstring, however, early in the year and that sidelined him for three games. McKinley is back now and still has 28 catches for 333 yards and three touchdowns despite missing that valuable time. He does have damaging speed, but not size (6'0 and 185 pounds). McKinley is extremely quick off the ball, runs great routes, and has breakaway speed with a 4.40 time in the 40-yard dash. McKinley will probably have to bulk up a little bit to be a major factor at the next level, but with that speed he could be a standout slot receiver and a significant contributor on special teams. A third or fourth round pick appears likely as long as he stays healthy.

McKinley was good at the NFL combine. He was a top performer in the 40-yard dash, Vertical Jump, Broad Jump, 3-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle. He had a 40 yard dash of 4.44 secs, a vertical jump of 37 inches and a 20 yard shuttle of 4.10 secs.

McKinley would have to wait in the draft until the 5th round where he was drafted by the Denver Broncos. He was 5th pick drafted in the 5th round (141st overall) during the 2009 NFL Draft.

As a rookie McKinley saw time in eight games in 2009. He saw most of his game time on special teams, where he returned kicks, he had seven kick returns for 158 yards. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second last game of the season and had surgery in the offseason. He was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury on December 28, 2009.

McKinley did recover and participated in the team’s offseason workouts but got hurt again during the first week of training camp and was placed on IR with a knee injury. The team placed the 23-year-old, second-year pro on the team's injured reserve list in early August.

The Reason
No one will truly know the reason why McKinley took his own life. It was reported that he was depressed from being on injured reverse (IR) again. And that he was also struggling with financial issues. Others have said that the pressure of being such a big college star and that his NFL pro career had been such a challenge had got to him. His agent had said that his second stint on IR had been very difficult. "It's a difficult situation, you go from being a super star in college and his pro career has been a challenge," Bondarowicz said. "These guys, they're made of steel on the outside, but for a lot of them, the challenge of being at your best and living up to all the expectations is a difficult situation. Some people are better equipped and have the support system."

McKinley had his demons but these were unknown to the people that were close to him. This is a sad story about a truly gifted man, what ever the reason for this we may never know.

When people commit suicide, they are in horrific pain, unlike that of anything other people can even fathom. They may not show it. They are mentally ill.

It is not an act of "selfishness." No more than a brain tumor is an act of selfishness. Nobody chooses either one. It is a choice made by the cruelty of chance.

In the mind of the clinically depressed self worth is deconstructed to the point that it is a SELFLESS act to end one’s life. One truly believes that one’s existence is an insurmountable burden to those who care. This belief system grows as brain chemistry reinforces the negative thinking until the only way to ease the burden to those one is closest to, including children, is to remove oneself from the equation through suicide. Of course all would be better off without the burden of the suicides existence.

In the world of football, there little places to turn to express these self destructive emotions. Strength and pain tolerance are prized. Depression is often viewed as feminine or self indulgent in the world at large so in this particular sport it could be seen as a source of mocking and ridicule. But there needs to be people on every team that guys like McKinley can talk to. This is just a tragic story.

Check out this Tribute Video on

Remember Him
Don’t just remember Kenny McKinley for this one act out of desperation. Remember McKinley as the guy that also had a simile on his face that brimmed from ear to ear. That he had a terrific college career and broke college records that were held by Sterling Sharpe. Remember McKinley as the talented young man that had so much in front of him and what he could have been. Remember him as the loving father that left behind a son. Remember him for the person he was and the life he lived, not the decision that he made. May all our thoughts and prays go out to his family and his son ~ Aussie Out!

RIP #11


  1. Rest in peace McKinley and my thoughts and prays are with his family.

    Thanks to all the sources I use to make this up, there are a number of them and I don't remember them all, thanks.

  2. Great piece on his life. I don't want to take away from this very sad event but I have to say my 2 cents. Anytime someone commits suicide, whatever the reason, it is a very selfish thing to do. #1, its not up to us to decide whether or not we are to live or take our own life... that's up to God. He chose to take his own life, he had a choice. You cannot honestly or fairly compare suicide to a brain tumor. Those things just happen... that's called "cruelty of chance" as you so put it. Things like that are usually unavoidable. McKinley had a choice... live or die, we face that everyday. He decided whatever was troubling him or causing his depression that it was too much to take. Therefore, he CHOSE to end his life based on he couldn't handle or didn't want to face his troubles anymore. I'm sure he thought of his family, son & friends but fact is, he made a choice and it will affect every single person close to him. I'm not saying he didn't care about his son because I'm sure he did, but whatever his troubles were they were apparently more important to escape then choosing to live and raise his son.

    I hate to say all this but its true. Bottom line is he gave up. Depression is something you can fight, it can go away... I would more than 99% of the time brain tumors are there for good... sure you can fight it with treatments & whatever but you don't have a choice if you get one or not. That's life right there. Life can be cruel and things like brain tumors happen. Why? I have no clue... it's an imperfect world out there. Suicide is preventable, you have to strong enough to fight those thoughts. Comparing brain tumors to suicide is like comparing day & night. They are 2 totally different things. They have very, very little in common.

    I don't want to make this situation about me but I want you to understand that suicide just doesn't happen, its a choice someone makes when life hasn't gotten to be too much for them which is the saddest thing cuz even though life can be a pain and difficult and cruel, at the end of the day you still have a choice of whether you want to live or die. God gave us the right to make choices but He wants us to make the RIGHT choices. And I can tell you right now, I don't have to know the person to say committing suicide is NEVER the right choice. That's not how God wanted it to happen. He had plans for Kenny but he chose to take his own life and the world will never know if he could've been a great football player, his son will probably wonder for a very long time why his dad is gone & at some will wonder if it was his fault. Kenny just put his kid through hell.

  3. Here's where I can relate. I didn't have a choice in losing my dad. He went of natural causes in his sleep and there was nothing anyone could've done. My problem was I just lost my best friend, my dad, the one person I could ALWAYS depend on. And when we passed away, I seriously thought about suicide. Yeah this is real personal but I want you to understand that I had a choice there. I could take my life, leave my mom with not only losing her husband but her only child. I would've left my mom in a world of pain. I came real close several times to just giving up the way Kenny did. But I couldn't do it. Her face always popped up in my head and I chose to fight my "demons". We had financial problems then too and I felt like a burden to my mom, she now had to raise me all by herself, ZERO family around and even if they had been around we wouldn't have gotten much support from them. From that point on, not one person in my family seemed remotely remorseful that I lost not only my dad but my best friend. I even had a few "family" members tell me to just "get over it" like it was no big deal my dad was gone. Now how cruel is that... an 11 year old girl loses her dad completely unexpected and her own family tells her to just get over it. Its no wonder why I don't get along with most of my family. They never liked my dad to begin with. Then to top that, all my friends abandoned me. Everyone gave up on me after that, except my mom. No one cared, except my mom. If it wasn't for her, I assure you I would be dead. Bottom line: I had the same choice as Kenny... live & fight my problems or take the easy way out & die. It wasn't easy, it never is but he didn't HAVE to die, his life wasn't supposed to end like this.

    And for that, I truly am saddened by this. It breaks my heart everytime I hear of someone committing suicide. It shows they let all of life's troubles get to them. No matter how hard life can get, NOTHING is ever too hard, tough, or cruel for God to handle. I put my life in His hands a long time ago and whatever problems I have I let Him take care of them because only He knows best. God is there for us, you just have to reach out to Him. I hope you can understand where I'm coming from, the point I'm trying to make.

    Rest peacefully Kenny. His family will be in my prayers for quite some time.

  4. I understand Princess and I don't want to get into an arguement about this but I would just like to point out a few things. Like you said you had your mum there to support you and get you through this. McKinley had no one living away from family, he must have had deep depression and he could not get out of it.

    In his state his mind just to take over and provide him with all these negative choices. I go back to that depression is a mentally illness. The state McKinley was in he would have really needed help which I don't think he had. And the point, In the mind of the clinically depressed self worth is deconstructed to the point that it is a SELFLESS act to end one’s life. One truly believes that one’s existence is an insurmountable burden to those who care.

    McKinley had serious problems, and this was the choice he made.

  5. Hey guys and gal, this is a really good article to read, it is by Andrew Mason

  6. After reading this and watching the videos, I'm in disbelief that he did this to himself.

  7. Yeah I think that is the point that makes this such a sad story, came completely out of the blue.

  8. There is more on this story here:

    This story just gets sadder.

  9. I don't want to argue about this either... wasn't trying to start anything, believe me. Despite being in depression though, it was still a selfish thing to do. The second he pulled that trigger he did it because he was worried about HIS life, everything else that mattered to him flew out the door. He did this because HE was depressed... now he just depressed everyone in his life. I can relate to his being scared about his football career possibly coming to an end with his knee injury... that is understandable but I can't believe with the positive teammates he had and coaches and friends that none of them didn't try to help out or support him in any way they could. Like McD said in his PC about this, that football team is like a second family. Sure it will never be your blood family but at least he had a group of guys that were there... they would've been there for him if he had just asked for help. There's no excuse, no reason why he couldn't have gotten help for the depression of his injury he was facing.

    My heart just aches for his family but he didn't have to make this choice. He made this choice of taking the easy way out to escape or not face the possibility his football career might be over, at that point he was only thinking of himself, no matter how depressed he might have been. He was thinking of HIS life, what was going to happen to HIM, not the people around him or how his suicide would affect them. Depression is a mental illness but not enough to make him not know what he's doing.

    With that said, I think it would be kind of cool to make our own tribute to the guys we've lost and at least put up a picture of each (DWill, Damien & Kenny) somewhere on the right side or if you can make it happen put the 3 of them on the left side. Just a thought... it may turn out to be too much of a reminder and sad thing to look at. Just thinking out loud.

  10. First point: In the world of football, there little places to turn to express these self destructive emotions. Strength and pain tolerance are prized. Depression is often viewed as feminine or self indulgent in the world at large so in this particular sport it could be seen as a source of mocking and ridicule.

    Maybe McKinley was scared to get help?

    'Depression is a mental illness but not enough to make him not know what he's doing.' But in some cases it can be so extreme that the mind is telling you something else which is not the correct idea. The mind makes you believe the wrong things.

    Yeah Princess I was going to do something like have them on the side bar, but still working on that.

  11. Found this thought it would be interesting for you guys.

  12. G1
    I like that post on MHR. I hope he does one on Hagan. IMO our weak link this year. Only because he shouldn't even have been forced to switch to there. DJ has bad angles and out of position most times. Never a good solid tackle. Why we have not drafted a stud MLB(or 2) is beyond me.

    We do agree on suicide. No one should ever OK the taking of a life. Even if it is their own.

  13. Digger, yeah I liked that post and would like to see more of them. And I agree we need to draft a few good LBs.

    And Digger and Princess, I do agree that no one should ever take their own life, and it is not OK to take life. But I try to understand the horrible position that McKinley and other people or in and try to view the situation from their perspective.

  14. Ex-teammate of McKinley

    Here's an interesting link about an ex-teammate of McKinley saying he doesn't think he committed suicide. Now I'm confused..... Who done it?? With the murder of DWill... I wouldn't be surprised in this case if there was foul play. What is it with Denver and all this drama. Geez.

  15. Yeah there are some interesting things that happened in this, like why the pillow? Did he want to muffle his own shot?

    I think we will find out more as the investigation continues.

  16. Now there's a pillow involved?? Interesting indeed. That would be my guess to quiet the gun shot. If he did indeed shoot himself, and his son was anywhere nearby, he probably didn't want anyone to hear a loud shot especially his son.

    Bottom line: this is weird.

  17. Yeah, the story goes that a female friend (or two?) took his son out to get food. I believe two female friends had stayed the night before?

    When they got back they found him in bed and it looked like he was sleeping, so they left him alone. They went back a few hours later and found that he was dead.

    He had a pillow on his head and the gun was laying on top of the pillow with his hand laying next to the gun?

    Question is won't they have noticed the gun on top of a pillow (black shows up really well on a white pillow). And was McKinley under the covers or laying on top of the bed. And you would think sleeping with a pillow on your head is odd?

    I don't know, we may find out more as the story unfolds.

  18. Full story from

    The report said McKinley was found in his upstairs bedroom with a pillow over his head. The gun, a black, semiautomatic Taurus, was inside the pillow case, and McKinley's right hand was just below the gun's grip. The TV in the bedroom was on the NFL Network. Police said the second floor was "very smoky," and the attending officer "could smell a strong odor of marijuana." A bag of leafy substance was found in a shoe box that was in the bedroom.

    The report also said McKinley had been taking 500 milligrams of naproxen, an over-the-counter pain reliever.

    Police responded to a call from a female who was hysterical, saying her friend (McKinley) just shot himself, saying he had the gun in his hand and blood was coming out.

    Among those listed who presented information were former Broncos running back Cory Boyd, who was McKinley's roommate at the University of South Carolina and a close friend; Boyd's wife Brittany; and several females. Brittany Boyd and Shantell Smith, both of Aurora, and a small child were outside McKinley's residence when officers arrived. The child was McKinley's son, Keon.

    An interview with Smith revealed she and Brittany Boyd picked up McKinley and his son at Denver International Airport on Sunday night. The two women stayed at McKinley's house with his son while McKinley went to an unknown female's home. He did not return to his home until 7 a.m. Monday.

    The report said officers were told that Shantell Smith and Brittany Boyd went with a person to get lunch at 12:15 p.m. When they returned, they went upstairs to McKinley's room and saw a sheet pulled over his body.

    They decided to let him sleep, but then both women went upstairs around 3 p.m. and pulled the sheet down from his body.

  19. Again, weird story behind this mess.

    I'm getting so frustrated... get this, Moreno is out with a hammy injury... Bailey is a "game-time decision"... Bucky & Maroney may or not play. Our running game is screwed!!!! And everyone wonders why we are so "pass-happy". Anyone else for calling up Terrell Davis and seeing if he can play at least one game for us?? We got our hands full with this game on Sunday.