We don’t know what demons Tony Fein was fighting when he apparently committed suicide on Tuesday: The body of the Ravens free agent linebacker was found by friends at the home where he was staying in his hometown of Port Orchard, Wash.
What we do know is that Fein was an Iraq War veteran, having enlisted at the age of 19 following graduation from high school and serving 2 1/2 years as a Delta reconnaissance scout. We also know of the high suicide rates among war veterans, and that many don’t get the psychological and physical care they require following tours of duty in the Middle East.
Was Fein one of these tragedies of neglect? There’s no way of knowing that at the moment. An autopsy and other toxicology tests likely won’t be complete for six to eight weeks, said Allen G. Gerdes, the Kitsap County chief deputy coroner. And even then, the cause of death might not be certain.
Fein was trying to make the Ravens as an undrafted free agent, following a successful career at Ole Miss. He was let go by Baltimore on Sept. 5 in the team’s final roster cutdown, but had talked about playing in the CFL. The goal was to try to come back and make it on an NFL roster.
He was found face down, unconscious and barely breathing, on Tuesday morning. He went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance that was taking him to Harrison Medical Center in nearby Bremerton, and was pronounced dead at the hospital at 9:48 a.m. PDT.
“Tony Fein was a really good teammate, a tremendous American, a tremendous young man … just a really good person,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said before Wednesday’s practice in Owings Mills, Md. “We were proud to have him here as part of our team. We’re unbelievably disappointed about the news.”
He also had some recent controversy in his life, having been arrested on Aug. 23 on charges of misdemeanor assault on a police officer. The incident occurred at a restaurant at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, when Fein was holding what officers mistook for a handgun, but was really a cell phone. Charges in the case were dropped last week, but Fein had indicated that he was planning on suing the police dept. in a case of what his lawyer called racial profiling.
“A humble young man,” said Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, who watched the Ravens community grieve recently over the murder of former Baltimore quarterback Steve McNair. “Our hearts definitely go out to his family because it’s such a tragedy for a man to be that young and go through the things he’s been through.”