was lying in a Chicago hospital one afternoon in 1978 when a doctor led a group
of people into his room. A few weeks earlier, during an exhibition game against
the Raiders, the Patriots receiver, a rising star, had been paralyzed by a
helmet-first hit from safety Jack Tatum that broke two vertebrae and crushed
Stingley's spine. After being told that the doctor wanted to introduce the
facility's "star patient," Stingley, then 26, exploded. "Star
patient my ass," he shouted. "Get out of here right now. I'm not on
exhibit for anyone."
never walked again, died last week at age 55. He told that story in 1983, in a
first-person account of his ordeal in SI, as an example of the bitterness he
felt. "I have relived that moment over and over again," he said in '88.
"It was only after I stopped asking why that I was able to regroup and go
on with my life."
limited movement in his right arm—he was able to operate his electric
wheelchair without assistance. He worked as a consultant for the Patriots, and
in 1993 he started the nonprofit Darryl Stingley Youth Foundation to mentor
inner-city youths on Chicago's West Side, where he grew up. He and Tatum never
spoke after that fateful play, but in 2003, when Tatum had part of his leg
amputated due to diabetes, Stingley was conciliatory. "You can't, as a
human being, feel happy about something like that happening," he told The
Boston Globe. "Maybe the natural reaction is to think he got what was
coming to him.... [But] human nature teaches us to hate. God teaches us to