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Local football star dies

Chuck Osborne, 38, who graduated from Canyon High, was found dead

Posted: October 18, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 18, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The photo was taken during Chuck Osborne's junior year at University of Arizona. Harry Welch, right, former Canyon High football coach, visited him there occasionally while Osborne was playing for Arizona.

 

Chuck Osborne, a defensive superstar for Canyon High School from 1989 to 1991 who went on to play football in the NFL, was found dead on his bed in his La Jolla condo, his father said Wednesday.

“He told his roommate that he was going to San Francisco,” Dennis Bajgrowicz said Wednesday. “The next thing we know is people calling saying, ‘Have you seen Chuck?’ His roommate went back to the apartment and found Chuck on the bed. He tried to wake him.”

Bajgrowicz said he received a call from the coroner in San Diego at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“He said ‘I have some very bad news. I’m sorry but we could not revive your son,’” he said.

Bajgrowicz said friends, well-wishers and NFL teammates had been calling him all Wednesday afternoon with their concerns.

“Everybody is in total shock,” he said, adding he had plans to have dinner with his son Thursday.

Osborne’s father spoke to the coroner in San Diego at 4 p.m. Wednesday hoping to hear how his son died, but he was still waiting for answers.

Investigators with the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office in La Jolla said Wednesday they don’t have an explanation for the death of the former NFL player because the examination hasn’t been done yet.

Osborne had been in good health, but on Oct. 9 he went to the hospital in La Jolla where doctors told him he had an inflamed pancreas, Bajgrowicz said.

Osborne played defense for the Canyon High School Cowboys and for University of Arizona Wildcats before his career in the NFL.

He was a two-time All-Golden League selection for the Cowboys and was twice named to the All-Santa Clarita Valley Football team.

In 1991, he was the Golden League’s Player of the Year and was rated the No. 4 defensive lineman in the country and was a Super-Prep All-American.

His coach at Canyon High, Harry Welch, who now is the head coach of Santa Margarita High in Rancho Santa Margarita, said he was informed of Osborne’s death Wednesday morning.

He said he and Osborne had been close ever since he played for him at Canyon, with Welch even enlisting him to help out in the week of the Cowboys’ 2006 state championship.

The coach spoke to his former player just a week ago.

“He’s one of the (best) athletes ever to play in Santa Clarita and go on and have a wonderful career after his time in Santa Clarita,” Welch said. “‘The Desert Swarm Defense’ (at the University of Arizona) redefined the emphasis on defense in college and the NFL. What’s so special is he was truly one of our own ... Chuck Osborne to me epitomizes the goodness of the people in Santa Clarita who may have come from humble but good roots and who succeeded and never left.”

He earned a scholarship to Arizona, where he played from 1992 to 1995 as a four-year starter for the Wildcats’ famed “Desert Swarm Defense.”

In 1996, he was a seventh-round pick of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

He played three NFL seasons with the Rams (1996) and Oakland Raiders (1998 and 1999), then retired after two injury-plagued tries with the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots in 2000.

“He’s a man who I loved dearly. I loved him absolutely dearly,” Welch said.

jholt@the-signal.com

661-287-5527

 

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