Columnist remembers Fred Lane

Much was made, and for good reason, over the holiday weekend about the one-year anniversary of the death of former NFL quarterback Steve McNair.

Taken far too soon and killed in mysterious circumstances, McNair is the quarterback that all others in the Tennessee Titans franchise will be measured against. By all accounts, he was a stand-up individual in the community.

Not so publicized is the fact that today marks 10 years since NFL running back Fred Lane was murdered by his estranged wife Deidra Lane in Charlotte, N.C. Scott Fowler, a columnist for the Charlotte Observer, does a terrific job of remembering Fred Lane in a column today.

“It was a horrifying moment in Charlotte’s sports history. If you lived here then, you probably remember where you were when you heard of the shooting of Lane, a former Carolina Panthers starting running back. I certainly do – it was one of the oddest, saddest days of my journalism career.”

Deidra Lane shot Fred Lance twice at close range with a shotgun as he entered his home. His keys were still in the door. Stunningly, Deidra Lane was convicted only of voluntary manslaughter in 2003 and she was released from prison 16 months ago, according to Fowler. The couple had a daughter who was a week old at the time of the slaying.

Fred Lane’s father – Fred Sr. – was happy to revisit memories of his son, who was the Panthers’ all-time leading rusher at the time of his death. Deidra Lane’s family asked Fowler not to write about the subject. Imagine that.

“I try to only remember the good times,” said Fred Lane Sr. “And every day with him was a good time. Fred loved life. He was a joy to be around.”

Lane was an undrafted college free agent from tiny Lane College in Tennessee in 1997. He’s one of the players that overcame the long odds to make it. He had signed with the Indianapolis Colts before he was killed but never suited up for them.

“Lane wasn’t a choirboy in three seasons here. He was held out of one Panthers game because he missed the team plane. He was suspended for another after celebrating a touchdown with a crotch grab. He caught heat once for not standing during the national anthem. But after being around Lane regularly for three years, I wrote most of those mistakes off to his immaturity – a quality he certainly had but one I thought was usually trumped by Lane’s heart being in the right place.”

And Lane too should be remembered.

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