FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - "Tyler's gone."
Damon Harrison clutched the phone to his ear, still unable to process what he had just heard.
"I was like, 'What are you talking about? Stop lying,' " the Jets nose tackle told Newsday after practice Wednesday, recalling the moment he learned from one of Tyler Sash's closest friends that their buddy was dead.
Sash, a former star at Iowa and Super Bowl champion with the Giants, was found dead Tuesday in an apartment in his hometown of Oskaloosa, Iowa.
He was 27.
"Everybody that's there [in Iowa] started calling me to tell me," said Harrison, who played college football at William Penn, located in Oskaloosa.
They knew each other long before either of them made it to the NFL, and Harrison said he attended Sash's celebrity golf tournament in his hometown every year.
Just two weeks ago, the pair chatted on Facebook. And now, Harrison is in disbelief.
"He was still young," he said. "There's some speculation of some stuff [regarding the cause of death], but we don't know."
According to reports, the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner said in a statement Wednesday that the autopsy revealed "no acute trauma" and that "the cause and manner of death are pending further investigation and additional laboratory testing."
In 2014, Sash was arrested in Iowa after leading officers on a four-block chase with a motorized scooter before running into a wooded area, The Associated Press reported. He was shocked with a stun gun after he refused to be handcuffed and later was convicted of public intoxication and fined $65.
Though Sash was a star safety at Iowa and went on to become a sixth-round draft pick of the Giants in 2011 and a Super Bowl champion, he remained humble and connected to his community, Harrison said.
"He was a good dude, man. He had a good heart," Harrison said. "Any time he had anything going, he would always invite the local kids from William Penn to come hang out at his house; just take a load off and relax. He was a real cool dude . . . He still showed love to his hometown and the people that he knew. He didn't change one bit."