Rashard Anderson, former Jackson State standout and Panthers 1st-round pick, dies at 45

Rashard Anderson, the former Carolina Panthers and Jackson State University cornerback, has died at 45. No further information about his death is currently available.

Anderson was the last player from Jackson State, a historically Black university, to be picked in the first round of the NFL draft. He was taken by the Panthers with the 23rd overall pick in 2000, while his teammate Sylvester Morris, a wide receiver, was taken just two spots earlier by the Kansas City Chiefs. They were the first Jackson State duo to be picked in the first round since Walter Payton and Robert Brazile in 1975.

Anderson, a native of Forrest, Miss., was a Jackson State standout, and is considered to be one of the greatest to ever play for the school. In 1996, he helped the JSU Tigers win their very first SWAC Championship in school history, and then helped them win the SWAC Eastern Division title in 1999.

“Today is a sad day for the JSU family,” said Jackson State VP and Director of Athletics Ashley Robinson in a statement released by the school. “Rashard was one of the best players in the history of our football program and an outstanding person. He attended our spring football game in April and was excited about the program returning to championship status. Rashard will always be remembered by Jackson State University, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”

Anderson’s NFL career and return to Jackson

After being drafted in 2000, he played two seasons for the Panthers, notching 65 tackles and one interception over 9 starts and 27 total games. Anderson was suspended for the entire 2002 season after testing positive for marijuana several times, a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He entered treatment and applied for reinstatement in 2003, but his application was rejected and his suspension extended through the 2003 season after another violation.

Anderson was reinstated following the 2003 season, but the Panthers cut him and he didn’t get a shot with another NFL team. In 2005 he caught on with the Calgary Stampeders, a team in the Canadian Football League, but was not able to make the cut when the roster was whittled down to 40 players.

Anderson’s playing career ended after his brief stint with the Stampeders. According to Khari Thompson of the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, he returned to Jackson and worked at Callaway and Murrah high schools as a substitute teacher and assistant football coach.

PITTSBURGH – AUGUST 10: Defensive back Rashard Anderson #46 of the Carolina Panthers looks on from the sideline during a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium on August 10, 2000 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

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