Fran Papasedero dies in a one-car accident Thursday night in Orlando.
By FRANK PASTOR
Published June 21, 2003
TAMPA - Storm receiver/defensive back Clif Dell planned to renew acquaintances with Fran Papasedero at the ArenaBall awards gala Friday at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Instead, the ex-Predator was mourning his former coach's death two days before ArenaBowl XVII between the Storm and Arizona Rattlers.
Papasedero was killed in a one-car accident after losing control of the car he was driving and it overturned several times Thursday night in Orlando.
It was not known if speed, alcohol or drugs were involved, Lt. Charles Robinson said. He said he did not know if Papasedero was wearing a seat belt.
"It was a pretty big shock," Dell said. "He's one of the top young coaches in the league."
Storm quarterback John Kaleo played with Papasedero for three seasons, in Albany in 1993 and in St. Louis in 1994 and 1995.
"It was crushing (Friday) morning. Fran was a very, very dear friend of mine," Kaleo said. "It took me a while to regroup and come out here to practice.
"Anyone who knew Fran or dealt with him had a smile on their face because he was such a nice guy."
Papasedero led Orlando to a 22-13 record and two playoff appearances in two seasons after Jay Gruden returned to the playing field in 2002.
"I already miss him so much," the quarterback said. "He was a breath of fresh air whenever he walked into a room. He was the life of the party, always going to put a smile on everybody's face. That's going to be irreplaceable."
Papasedero played five seasons as a lineman with Albany (1993), Massachusetts (1994), St. Louis (1995-96) and Nashville (1997) and worked as an assistant in Orlando for four.
He worked primarily with Predators linemen, including B.J. Cohen, a second team All-Arena selection this season with the Storm.
"He taught me everything I know," Cohen said. "When I came into the league, I was raw talent. But he showed me the ins and outs."
Papasedero was 34. He is survived by his 2-year-old daughter, Vivian. A memorial service is Monday.
"Off the field, Fran was a generous, caring and fun-loving man," commissioner David Baker said. "But when it came to winning, he was as fierce a competitor as there was in the AFL."
- Times staff writer Mike Readling contributed to this report, which used information the Associated Press.