- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 21, 2010

ENGLEWOOD, COLO. (AP) - Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley, who is thought to have killed himself with a gunshot to the head, had made previous statements about committing suicide, according to a sheriff’s investigative report released Tuesday.

The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s report quoted one investigator as saying McKinley had been depressed over a knee surgery he had a month ago.

“He had made statements while playing dominoes shortly after the surgery that he should just kill himself,” the officer reported. “No one believed he was serious.”

The report provided no explanation for the source of the investigator’s information.

The report also said McKinley had made statements about not knowing what he would do without football. It said McKinley had flown to South Carolina 10 days earlier to see his young son and had brought him back with him to Denver on Sunday night.

Two female friends who were taking care of his son discovered McKinley’s body Monday and called 911. Detectives who responded to his home a few miles from the Broncos headquarters found McKinley’s body with a pillow over his head and a semiautomatic pistol on top of the pillow. They also noted a strong odor of freshly burned marijuana, according to the report.

Arapahoe County Coroner Michael Dobersen said Tuesday that McKinley died of a gunshot wound to the head. He said a preliminary investigation “suggests the wound to be self-inflicted.”

McKinley’s teammates and coaches said Tuesday that they didn’t see any hint the gregarious 23-year-old wide receiver was suicidal. Neither did the players at his alma mater, South Carolina, when he visited them earlier this month.

“I actually saw Kenny a week and a half ago. He was over here picking up some stuff out of his locker,” Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. “He was always a guy that used to love to joke with me and I would joke back and forth with him. But he had a big smile on his face. He just walked out of the building.

“And that’s the last thing we remember, that huge smile. Like coach said, he always showed every tooth in his mouth, just smiling and being happy.”

This is the third time in four years the Broncos have had to deal with the death of a teammate under stunning circumstances. Cornerback Darrent Williams, 24, was slain in a drive-by shooting on New Year’s Day 2007, and three months later running back Damien Nash, 24, collapsed and died after a charity basketball game in St. Louis.

Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said in a tearful news conference Tuesday that nobody with the Broncos sensed any warning signs from McKinley about his state of mind.

“We’ve all seen him recently. He’s been the same person every time we see him. Liked junk food and chips and things like that,” McDaniels said. “He was in the cafeteria, or in the training room, when we were seeing him the last so many weeks here. Nothing that would alarm us to anything like this.”

Woodyard said McKinley was his usual joking and jovial self in recent weeks even as he was recovering from his second knee operation this year.

“Every memory that we have of Kenny is a joke and a big smile,” Woodyard said.

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