Former center Whitley found dead in Texas trailer home

FORT STOCKTON, Texas -- Former NFL center Curtis Whitley, who played for three teams in the 1990s and had a history of substance use, was found dead in his trailer home in West Texas.

The Pecos County sheriff said Wednesday that the 39-year-old Whitley was found Sunday night in Fort Stockton, about 220 miles east of El Paso.

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Curtis Whitley played for San Diego, Carolina and Oakland from 1992-97.

Sheriff Cliff Harris said Whitley was found face down in the bathroom by friends who went to check on him after they had not heard from him. Harris said there was no signs of foul play, but the death remains under investigation.

Whitley played for San Diego, Carolina and Oakland from 1992-97 and had two suspensions for violating the league's drug policy.

Whitley's body has been sent to El Paso for an autopsy.

A fifth-round draft pick out of Clemson in 1992, Whitley spent six tumultuous years in the NFL.

He played three seasons for San Diego, but was released in 1994 after an arrest for investigation of drunken driving, then re-signed after a 26-day stay at the Betty Ford Center.

The Carolina Panthers chose him in the 1995 expansion draft. He spent two seasons in Carolina and started each game in 1995.

He was suspended four games in 1996 for what officials said was an alcohol-related violation of the drug policy, then released by the Panthers before training camp the next season.

Whitley spent 1997 with the Raiders, appearing in 15 games with one start. He was suspended for the entire 1998 season for violating the drug policy and never played in the NFL again.

Whitley admitted snorting crystal methamphetamine while with the Panthers in a book chronicling Carolina's 1996 season called "Year of the Cat." He said in the book his four-game suspension in Carolina was for drug use, not alcohol abuse as the team had said.

He also revealed in the 1997 book that he had used crystal methamphetamine often since 1992.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press