Ravens’ Flacco Heading To Arizona To Be With Friend Todd Heap Following Tragic Accident

The Pittsburgh Steelers remain in mourning over the passing of their patriarch, Dan Rooney, owner, president, chairman, and ambassador. But the greatest tragedy within the broader NFL community in the past week was not in Pittsburgh, but rather in Arizona, when former Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap accidentally struck and killed his youngest child, a three-year-old girl, while moving his vehicle in the family’s driveway.

A 2001 first-round pick, he has five children with his wife, Ashley. Their family is dealing with an immeasurable loss that will be felt for the rest of their lives. It is a parent’s worst nightmare to lose their child, and for good reason, though it’s often forgotten how great that impact is also on the siblings.

Heap spent the first 10 years of his career with the Ravens, from 2001 through the 2010 season, during which he caught 467 passes for 5492 yards and a franchise-record 41 touchdowns, averaging a very healthy 11.8 yards per reception.

He was released in the 2011 offseason in a salary cap move and finished his career with the Cardinals, playing two seasons there, during which he brought his career totals up to 499 receptions for 5869 yards and 42 touchdowns. He was a two-time Pro Bowler. The Ravens inducted him into their Ring of Honor in 2014.

While he may have made his home in Arizona, where he was born and raised and attended college, and did not finish his career in Baltimore, the city, the team, and the player have all remained close, and he retains ties with those who played with him while he was with the Ravens. He is very good friends with fellow tight end Dennis Pitta, and quarterback Joe Flacco has also remained in contact with him.

Yesterday, he told reporters that he and his wife would be traveling out to Arizona in order to spend some time with the Heaps. “Kind of just maybe a little bit of a distraction in this time”, Flacco said. “I have kids myself. It was a tragic accident. He’s a friend and me and my wife kind of just want to be there for him”. He plans to travel there today.

Many who knew or know Heap have been asked to comment on the tragedy, and the virtually universal theme in their comments, as it usually is in such situations, is “I can’t imagine what he is going through”. There are, however, those who know exactly what it is like to lose a child or a sibling tragically, and my extended family happens to have a good bit of experience in that regard.

I can say that this is something that fundamentally changes who you are and the way that you view the world, or at least it has the capacity to do so, and often does. You may in time heal some of the scars and ultimately move on with your life, as though there is any other choice, but you won’t be going back to that life; rather, you are starting a new one, and one that holds less capacity for joy.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • KiJana Haney

    I can even fathom the pain heap feels.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I cannot even begin to imagine the heartache that man is going through. Absolutely devastating. I wish nothing but peace for him and his loved ones. Something like this goes so far beyond silly sports and fandom. The man’s humanity is forever changed.

  • JNick

    As a parent it’s hard to imagine being able to physically, mentally and emotionally get through a tragedy like that. God bless Todd and his family.

  • Brian Tollini

    Having a 3 year old daughter myself, this story made me a little sick to my stomach. How easily something like this can happen, and how easily it can be prevented. Horrible for the Heap family.

  • Biggie

    Prayers out to the Heap family, such a tragedy. Hoping they have alot of good friends around to help them through all this.

  • Jakobson

    Thats a true friend right there

  • Boots

    Whatever my feelings are about Heap or Flacco or any other Crows player as football players, this is terrible and bigger than football and I send my condolences to him and his family!

  • mokhkw

    Last 2 paragraphs have a lot of truth to them. I know 2 people who lost their kids to swimming pool accidents, one at the age of 1 the other was 3 years old. You hear about people being “broken” and that’s an apt description because they are never the same again, even 20 years later. It’s like someone sucked the life out of them. I can’t imagine what they are going through but the change in them is obvious.

  • Jeff Anoble

    A terrible tragic nightmare. Having no idea the circumstances involved I still stress to everyone to be patient in life when it comes to driving. Everyday I see parents pick up their children at school and drive like maniacs into and out of the parking lots always in a hurry. Everyone is always in a hurry. Just remember their are no 2nd chances to say “Why didn’t I look back or Why was I going so fast in a school zone or park? Why was I texting and driving?” etc etc etc.

  • Matt Manzo

    Worst thing ever! Only good that can come out of it is for people to learn to slow down and be more careful.
    Nowadays people don’t pay enough attention to the present moment. Accidents like these always come down to one stupid little mistake.

  • Dorian James

    I can’t even dream about losing a child without having an attitude for the rest of the day. May the Lord bring him and his family peace

  • francesco

    One cannot remove this feeling of guilt no matter how hard one tries. Only God’s grace can bring peace of mind.

  • Cwallace

    God bless Mr Heap and his family

  • Darth Blount 47

    Another absolutely tragic parallel with my own life and family. My father had a child who was killed in this exact same way. It was decades before I was born, and with a woman who is not my mother, so I struggle to feel a connection. My father was not the one driving the vehicle, but the tragedy obviously affected him deeply. I can only imagine as a father myself, what the Heaps are going through. I can’t express my sympathies of prayers enough for Todd and his family. I know they say that time heals all wounds, and to some extent it can… But this may be the exception. I truly hope that God can give him a least a modicum of peace.

    Very cool to see Flacco and others rally around their friend. Tragedies like this completely remind us how trivial football is. The first thought in my head when I heard this news, had nothing to do with Heap ever being a Raven. My heart ached for him as a human being. And it still aches for him now. :’-(

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Wow….that is something that you wish on nobody…he has to live with this the rest of his days…may God be with him and his family.

  • Woodsworld

    It’s inconcievable what he and his family are going through, and especially him, the father who protects his children to be the one who, by accident, causes his own child’s death. I pray for him, and his family, and that he may understand that though we don’t understand it…..this was GOD’s timing, and nothing can change that. GOD will also give him peace about it……praying for him.