BRANDON, Fla. (AP) — Former NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson was found dead Monday at a Florida hotel room, days after authorities spoke with him as part of a welfare check, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
A housekeeper discovered the 38-year-old's body at around 11:30 a.m. Monday, official said.
There were no signs of trauma and the medical examiner’s office was looking into a cause of death at the Homewood Suites in Brandon, near Tampa.
Sheriff’s officials said his family initially reported Jackson missing on Wednesday. Deputies tracked him down to the hotel two days later, spoke with him and canceled the missing persons case.
Sheriff Chad Chronister said his department has opened an investigation.
“My heart aches for the many loved ones Vincent Jackson leaves behind, from his wife and children to the Buccaneers nation that adored him,” Chronister said in a statement posted on social media.
“Mr. Jackson was a devoted man who put his family and community above everything else,” the sheriff said, noting that Jackson, a South Tampa resident, was made an honorary deputy.
Jackson played for the San Diego Chargers for seven seasons before becoming a free agent because of a contract dispute. He then went on to play five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, making his last appearance in 2016. He recorded 57 receiving touchdowns and was selected to the Pro Bowl three times.
The son of military parents, Jackson founded the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation, a nonprofit to support military families.
“We are all mourning the loss of our beloved @VincentTJackson. His wife and family ask that everyone respect their privacy at this time,” the foundation tweeted Monday.
Mourning his death, Jackson's former teams highlighted his dedication to community service.
“During his five seasons with our franchise, Vincent was a consummate professional, who took a great deal of pride in his performance on and off the football field,” Buccaneers owner and co-chairman Bryan Glazer said in a statement, noting Jackson's work in the community.
“His greatest achievements as a Buccaneer were the four consecutive nominations he earned as our Walter Payton Man of the Year,” the team said, referring to the award given to NFL players for their service to the community.
The Chargers, now based in Los Angeles, said Jackson was “gone too soon.”
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by news of Vincent Jackson's sudden passing. Vincent was a fan favorite not only for his Pro Bowl play on the field but for the impact he made on the community off of it,” the team said on Twitter.
An outpouring of appreciation flowed on social media.
“I started crying holding his jersey. I grew up a chargers fan,” said one fan who identified himself as YungEazy on Twitter. “Great personality and no hate in the world. This is very sad. Rest In Peace King.”