Jared Lorenzen, former Kentucky quarterback who played in the NFL, dies at 38

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Jared Lorenzen, a former standout quarterback at Kentucky who went on to earn a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants, died Wednesday at age 38. His family announced the news in a statement. “Please keep Jared’s family and especially his children, in your thoughts and prayers,” the statement said. Last week, Lorenzen’s family announced (via Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio), that Lorenzen was hospitalized and admitted to an intensive care unit while he struggled with an infection, kidney and heart issues. In an update Tuesday, Lorenzen was said to be “still very sick” and on dialysis, with ongoing cardiac and renal issues.

Listed by the NFL at 6 feet 4 and 285 pounds, Lorenzen played sparingly for the Giants as a backup to Eli Manning from 2004 through 2007. Nicknamed the “Hefty Lefty,” Lorenzen had eight career pass attempts with New York, all coming in a 2007 season that ended with the Giants’ upset of the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Manning, who played against Lorenzen in college as a quarterback for Mississippi, described Lorenzen on Wednesday as a “great teammate and friend.” They joined the Giants in the same year, with Manning arriving in a draft-day trade after becoming the No. 1 overall pick in 2004 while Lorenzen signed as an undrafted free agent.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to his family,” Manning said in a statement (via NFL.com). “I will always remember his competitive spirit and his good nature. Jared has left us all way too soon.”

Lorenzen was out of the NFL by 2008 but returned to professional football in 2011 with the Northern Kentucky River Monsters of the Ultimate Indoor Football League. He made more appearances in minor football leagues, showing that he could still play well even at his size, until he broke his leg in a 2014 game.

In 2017, Lorenzen said that when he stepped on a scale the year before, the first time he had done so since leaving the NFL, he was stunned to find he weighed more than 500 pounds.

“It’s embarrassing, it’s life-altering, it’s scary,” he told the TODAY show. “I was to a point where I realized that if I went to bed and didn’t wake up, people would say, ‘Well look at him, he’s huge.’ It wouldn’t be unexpected. That’s where it hit me: ‘Oh, my God, I could die.’ “

The Kentucky native said at the time that he was embarking on a weight-loss program he called “The Jared Lorenzen Project,” which included a video series posted to YouTube. In the first episode, he was shown weighing on a scale at 571 pounds; the final episode, posted in April, showed him continuing to engage with fitness activities but struggling with weight gain.

Lorenzen was a starter for most of his four seasons at Kentucky, traditionally one of the lesser football programs in the rugged Southeastern Conference. He threw for a total of 10,354 yards, with 78 touchdowns and 41 interceptions, adding 283 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. He set school career records for offensive yards, passing attempts and completions.

“Jared was a uniquely gifted player who endeared himself to the Big Blue Nation with his passion for the game and his incredible talent,” Kentucky Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart said in a statement (via WKYT ). “More importantly, he was a true Wildcat and a man whose love for the University of Kentucky was plain to see well after his playing days were over. That love was surpassed only by the love he had for his two children. We offer our support and condolences to them, as well as all of Jared’s family and friends.”

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Posted by USA