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Former NFL Quarterback Erik Kramer Talks About the Death of His Son, Griffen

The former pro football star talks with the Chicago Tribune about the loss of his son and how he's coping.

Erik Kramer had a successful 10-year career with the NFL, including a five-year stint as a quarterback with the Bears.

But these days, Kramer, 47, is just trying to cope, according to a weekend story in the Chicago Tribune.

Five months ago, his 1 an Agoura resident, died of a heroin overdose.

"It has not been easy," Kramer told the Tribune in his first extensive interview since the tragedy. "I have been going through a divorce for the last two years. It has only added to it. It has been very difficult.

"But you find yourself and you find faith and the strength to go on. And when you have other kids, like I have Dillon who is 13, there is no option for anything else but to find a way. One day at a time, one conversation at a time and just persevere."

Griffen, a Thousand Oaks High School quarterback who had been struggling with substance abuse, on Oct. 30.

According to the report, Kramer, who works for Fox Sports Los Angeles and as a TV analyst for Bears exhibition games, felt that football was a curse for his son and he may have felt pressure to be in "the NFL and to be a superstar."

"I think he carried that weight with him. From a very early age, it was very important to him to out-do his father. And as he got older, he didn't have the work ethic that it would have taken," he told the Tribune. "So in football ... he was the backup quarterback. ... And the thing that broke my heart was knowing that it would take focus, it would take more on his part."

On Oct. 29, in the hours leading to his death, Griffen was reportedly was sitting in a cul-de-sac with friend David Nernberg and taking heroin, a Los Angeles County sheriff's detective told the Ventura County Star at the time.

According to the Star, Kramer “shot up … [and] started foaming at the mouth while his friends watched, said homicide Detective Sgt. Barry Hall.

Nernberg called his friends, asking what he should do as Kramer slipped into unconsciousness, Hall told the Star.

Nernberg then drove to his own house and dragged the unconscious Kramer to his bedroom, authorities said. Rather than call 911, Nernberg let him sleep it off.

The next morning, sheriff's officials said Kramer probably had been dead for hours, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Nernberg, 19,and possession of a controlled substance. He is awaiting trial.

"I learned through Al-Anon that you can't make every encounter a fight or struggle," Kramer said in the Tribune. "So you tend to keep (the conversation) to news, weather and sports and support him the best you can. But you cannot force drugs out of his world. It has to be something they come to on their own.

"I would always text him and tell him I love him, or call him and leave him messages. He would choose not to pick up the phone, or he would occasionally allow me to take him to lunch or dinner.

To read the full story, click here.

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