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Ex-Buc McHale used pills, cocaine before death, friend says

The former athlete had  operated McHale's Chop House in Brandon.

Times files photo (2003)

The former athlete had operated McHale's Chop House in Brandon.

WESLEY CHAPEL — Tom McHale looked drunk when he showed up at his friend's apartment Saturday night. Martin Jackson had met the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer at a rehab center, and the two were headed back there in a day or so.

But later that night, Jackson told Pasco sheriff's deputies, McHale took antianxiety pills and used cocaine. And the next morning, Jackson found him in bed, not breathing.

McHale, 45, was eventually pronounced dead by paramedics.

A medical examiner will determine his official cause of death. That report is not expected until August.

In the Sheriff's Office report released Wednesday, Jackson described a troublesome time for the former pro football player. McHale mostly played on the offensive line for Tampa Bay from 1987 to '92.

After his football career, he ran two prominent restaurants, McHale's Sports Pub in South Tampa and McHale's Chop House in Brandon, and later went into real estate.

He was married with three children.

But Jackson, 29, told deputies that McHale's wife, Lisa, had recently kicked him out and planned to seek a Marchment Act order, which enables involuntary treatment of people with chemical addictions.

Even as he said he looked forward to returning to rehab, McHale popped several Xanax pills and used cocaine, Jackson told deputies. Then he went to sleep at Jackson's Delano Apartments home off State Road 56 Saturday night.

About 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Jackson found him in the living room drinking soda and eating leftover pie. McHale went back to sleep in Jackson's bed, and an hour later Jackson couldn't wake him up.

He dragged McHale onto the floor and started CPR. McHale woke up and vomited, the report said. Martin continued CPR until paramedics arrived.

No foul play is suspected, the Sheriff Office said.

Neither McHale's family nor Jackson could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at or (727) 869-6245.

Ex-Buc McHale used pills, cocaine before death, friend says 05/28/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 30, 2008 4:31pm]
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