Mitch Petrus, 32, died at 10:45 pm on July 18 after being taken to Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock, Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs told the Arkansas Democratic Gazette. The coroner said that former New York Giants offensive guard was reportedly “feeling ill” after working outside and in his family’s shop in Lonoke County. The cause of death was listed as heat stroke, according to the coroner. A heat advisory was in effect for a large part of Arkansas, where temperatures reached the low-to-mid 90s (and the heat index made it feel hotter than 100 degrees.) Sadly, the heat was too much for Mitch to bear. As the NFL and football fans prepare to mourn the loss of one of their champions, here’s the story behind this young man’s all-too-short life.
1. He was a Super Bowl champion. Mitch will have a place in the heart of every New York Giants fan the watched them defeat the New England Patriots in 2012’s Super Bowl XLVI. Mitch was part of that championship squad. The Giants picked Mitch in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He played in 17 regular-season games with the team. He also played in all of the 2011 postseason games, including the Super Bowl.
2. …and he also played for the Giants’ rivals. After the Super Bowl victory, the Big Blue Wrecking Crew decided to say “buh-bye” to Mitch. They waived him in September 2012 after the Giants were awarded offensive tackle D.J. Jones, on waivers, by the Philadelphia Eagles. Jones failed his physical and Mitch was re-signed, but re-released in November 2013 after Travis Beckum was activated. The Patriots, who the Mitch help defeat in 2012, signed him shortly afterward, but released him a month later. After that, he was claimed off waivers by the Tennesse Titans. He played two seasons with them in the 2012 season before he was ultimately waived. After that, he didn’t sign with another NFL team.
3. He was an Arkansas native. Mitch was born and raised in Carlisle, Arkansas. He graduated from Carlisle High School, was a walk on at Arkansas, and bounced around at three positions – tight end, linebacker, and fullback – during his first two seasons. He found his groove as an offensive lineman as a junior in 2007.
4. Mitch graduated with a degree in agricultural economics. “I grew up on a farm, where we raised rice, corn and soybeans,” he told NJ.com in 2012. “That’s what my area of interest was. I started out in kinesiology, but when it came time to find something that I was interested in, (agriculture) came easier to me. When they started using examples for commodities and stuff like that, it was a breeze.”
5. He also had a deep love of music. Mitch’s father played in a Motown-style band called The Sabres in the 1960s, according to The New York Times. The love of music was passed down to his son. Though he initially wasn’t all that into music, he quickly fell in love with the guitar after taking lessons from his teammate, Drew Hudgens, while at Arkansas. He and Drew started a band together called Vikings of the North Atlantic. “When I got drafted by the Giants, it was a little weird because of the Vikings thing,” Petrus said. “People were like: ‘Vikings? Minnesota?’ So I kind of like going by VONA better.”
“I believe in the sound, I really do,” Petrus said. He played bass in VONA, while Drew played guitar. “It’s just really rewarding. I gave up video games. I gave up Halo for music because it’s less stress in my life. It’s just fun.”