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Former NFL quarterback Ryan Mallett dies in apparent drowning in Gulf of Mexico

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(DESTIN, Fla.) — Former NFL quarterback Ryan Mallett has died in an apparent drowning off the Gulf of Mexico, authorities said.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and first responders were called to a beach in Destin, Florida — approximately 50 miles east of Pensacola in Florida’s panhandle — at 2:12 p.m. to a report of a group of people in the water near a sandbar who had been struggling to make their way back to shore.

“One of the individuals, an adult male, went under and lifeguards say he was not breathing when pulled out,” said the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in a statement following the incident. “Lifesaving measures were immediately undertaken but the man was pronounced deceased at the Destin Emergency Room.”

Police initially did not identify the victim who died in the apparent drowning but said they had received confirmation from next of kin in a subsequent update that the man who died was 35-year-old former NFL quarterback Ryan Mallett.

Mallett, who played in the NFL for seven seasons, was selected as the 74th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of the University of Arkansas by the New England Patriots to serve as a backup, at the time, to seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Mallett also played for the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens before he played his last game in the NFL in 2017.

“We are shocked and saddened by the passing of Ryan Mallett,” the Arkansas football program said in a statement posted to Twitter. “He was a Razorback legend with larger-than-life talent and a personality to match. He led our program to some of our best moments in recent memory. He will be missed by everyone who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his mother Debbie and his extended family.”

Many of Mallett’s former NFL colleagues paid their respects to the veteran quarterback on social media after learning of his death.

“I am extremely saddened by Ryan’s tragic passing,” said New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick according to the team. “My thoughts and prayers are with [Mallett’s] family and the many people whose lives he touched.”

““Our hearts go out to Ryan’s family and we offer every condolence to them today. Ryan was a part of us,” said Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh in a statement released by the team. “I will always remember the love he had for his teammates and for making the most of, and enjoying every football day while here. Once a Raven always a Raven, R.I.P. Ryan.”

Retired defensive end J.J. Watt said it was “horrible news to read about Ryan Mallett. Gone way too soon. Rest in Peace brother.”

“It is with great sadness that we share the loss of Coach Ryan Mallett,” White Hall, the Arkansas school district where Mallett had been coaching high school football before his death, wrote on its website. “Coach Mallett was a beloved coach and educator. We ask that you remember his family, team, students, fellow coaches, and the White Hall School District staff in your prayers.”

Mallett finished his NFL career having played in 21 NFL games — eight of which he started — and completed 190 of 345 attempts, finishing with a total of 1,835 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

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