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More than 1,600 attend Fails' funeral

Posted: Saturday November 30, 2002 9:14 PM

EULESS, Texas (AP)-- Texas A&M player Brandon Fails was remembered by hundreds of people Saturday as a big-hearted player who was quick with a smile and at times seemed too nice to be a defensive lineman.

More than 1,600 college and high school teammates, family members and friends gathered for the funeral of the 18-year-old freshman, who died Monday after collapsing while getting ready to go eat breakfast.

"He had a love for others that would just ... it'd just embrace you, like one of his big ol' hugs," said Chris Cunningham, Fails' coach at Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High School. Cunningham spoke before rows of Fails' former teammates, who wore Colleyville Heritage jerseys.

Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum said Fails was so friendly he had trouble putting on the "meanest of mean" faces that A&M linemen like to wear in team pictures.

"Brandon had no chance," Slocum said. "He couldn't do it."

Fails had that same quality as a star at Colleyville, assistant coach John Furin said, recalling how Fails would always apologize and offer a hand to each player he tackled.

"Brandon was a winner in the game of football; he was a winner in the game of life," Furin said.

The school said Fails' No. 72 would be retired. His A&M jersey was laid in his coffin.

Preliminary autopsy reports showed that Fails died from a blood clot that formed as a result of a leg injury. The clot traveled to his lungs, where it became trapped in arteries and restricted the flow of blood to his lungs. He complained of problems breathing and died about an hour after collapsing.

Fails hurt his right knee in practice and had surgery Oct. 22.

The Aggies honored Fails in Friday's loss to Texas by wearing stickers with his Aggie No. 89 on their helmets. Texas canceled Monday night's hex rally, an annual pregame ritual.

A starting prospect for next season, the 6-foot-1, 307-pound Fails played only four games this season before being sidelined by his knee injury. In his limited playing time, he was in on two tackles against Louisiana Tech.

Fails is survived by his parents, a brother and two sisters.

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