Staat was close friend of Tillman's

Updated: May 26, 2004, 7:15 PM ET
Associated Press

CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Lineman Jeremy Staat won't return to the Los Angeles Avengers this season as he mourns the death of his friend Pat Tillman.

Staat, who was placed on the AFL's suspended list Wednesday, played with Tillman at Arizona State. Tillman left the NFL's Arizona Cardinals to join the Army in 2002 and was killed last month in Afghanistan. He was 27.

"We talked about it and decided it would be best that he take the rest of the season off," coach Ed Hodgkiss said. "He was intimately close with Pat Tillman. He had issues to deal with."

Staat last played May 9 at Tampa Bay. He was in his first season with the Avengers after playing in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1998 to 2000. He played two games with St. Louis last year.

Whether Staat will return to the Avengers next season will be decided in the offseason, Hodgkiss said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press