SAN DIEGO – Shane Olivea, the former San Diego Chargers lineman who blocked for LaDainian Tomlinson in the most productive years of the running back’s Hall of Fame career, has died, the team announced Thursday. He was 40.
A seventh-round pick by the Chargers in 2004, Olivea started 57 games of the team’s 60 games played between 2004-07. He played college football under Jim Tressel at Ohio State University and was a member of the school’s 2002 national championship squad. His cause of death was not immediately disclosed.
Olivea returned to Ohio State to finish his degree, which he did in 2016, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
He told Dispatch reporter Bill Rabinowitz that his NFL career ultimately fell apart due to a painkiller addiction, remarking, “There wasn’t one day in the NFL I wasn’t high on a pill after my rookie year.” The addiction later ended up in a nearly three-month stay in the Betty Ford Center, according to the Dispatch.
Olivea was released by the Chargers in 2008 and attempted to resume his career with the New York Giants, but he never returned to the field in the NFL. He had later stints with the Florida Tuskers and the Virginia Destroyers of the now-defunct United Football League.
In a release, the Chargers called Olivea “an integral part” of the team’s offensive line that helped Tomlinson break the NFL’s single-season touchdown record in 2006.
On Twitter, retired NFL linebacker and Olivea’s former Ohio State teammate Bobby Carpenter said that he awoke “to the sobering news that @OhioStateFb lost a great one this morning.”
“More importantly, I’ll never forget the kindness he showed to a young freshman who was clueless and didn’t know anything about anything. #RIPShane #Thankyou,” Carpenter wrote in a tweet Thursday.
Another Buckeye teammate Rodney Bailey remarked that he’d had “many great battles in practice and the league with this man.”
“Class act,” Bailey wrote in a tweet. “We lost a good man. My condolences to the Olivea Family.”
Roman Oben, the NFL’s vice president of football development who played with Olivea in San Diego, wrote: “Very sad to hear the news of my former teammate Shane Olivea. Praying for his family today.”