The news of two high-profile deaths last week — one from the entertainment world, the other from sports — instantly transported me back to the bygone eras in which each was an icon.
And, though the circumstances of their deaths differed, certain aspects can be instructive for us.
In 1987, if you were a male between the ages of, say, 12 and 25, you definitely knew who Peterson was — and likely had a crush on her.
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As the comely and engaging star of that summer’s surprise hit teen comedy, Can’t Buy Me Love, Peterson was the girl every guy wanted as his girlfriend.
It was a testament to her and co-star Patrick Dempsey’s burgeoning talent and on-screen chemistry that what could easily have been just a silly, forgettable farce wound up instead being a touching, classic rom-com.
That Peterson never followed up Can’t Buy Me Love with another meaningful role and left acting permanently just a few years later made her a classic “whatever-happened-to?”
Last week, news broke that, two days shy of her 44th birthday, Peterson was found dead in her Greeley, Colorado, home.
No cause of death has yet been released and her mother, Sylvia Peterson, was reported to have speculated that “it may have been related to her sleep apnea.”
Internet speculation has focused far more on Peterson’s struggles with drug abuse. Between 2000 and 2012, she was arrested five times on substance abuse-related charges, and mug shots display the disturbing transformation of her appearance. However, her mom told Entertainment Tonight that the former star “had been clean for a long time and this was not, in any way, a drug thing.”
Even if Peterson’s toxicology comes back negative, there’s still a possibility that past drug abuse combined with sleep apnea (a potentially serious disorder in which breathing involuntarily stops and starts during sleep) both played roles in her death.
That’s because both not only place undue stress on the body’s vital organs, the two conditions can actually exacerbate each other.
During the 1970s, Stabler was the Pro Bowl quarterback — and legendary leader — of the NFL’s renegade franchise: the Oakland Raiders.
Nicknamed “The Snake,” the long-haired lefthander was best-known for two things: leading clutch game-winning drives on the field … and partying like a rock star off it.
Stabler used to say that he did just fine studying his playbook “by the light of a nightclub jukebox.”
The NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1974, he authored far too many late-game heroics to recount.
But for passionate lifelong Miami Dolphins fans like myself, Stabler’s most enduring moment — the (in)famous “Sea of Hands” play — is a permanent wound burned into our sports souls. That miraculous playoff game-winning touchdown pass — which Stabler, while being tackled, floated into the end zone among three Dolphins defenders — ended the Dolphins Super Bowl dynasty of the early 1970s.
Stabler’s family announced via Facebook last week that the Alabama native had, at 69, succumbed to Stage 4 colon cancer.
He been diagnosed only a few months ago. Whether Stabler had been undergoing regular colonoscopy screenings prior to his late-stage diagnosis is unclear.
But his death does serve as a reminder to all of us of how vital it is to detect colon cancer in its earliest stage.