CHICAGO (AP) -Darryl Stingley, paralyzed after a vicious hit during an NFL exhibition game nearly 30 years ago, died Thursday. He was 55.
Stingley was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital after he was found unresponsive in his Chicago home, according to Tony Brucci, an investigator with the Cook County medical examiner's office.
Stingley, a star receiver with the New England Patriots, was left a quadriplegic after he collided with Oakland's Jack Tatum while trying to catch a pass in an exhibition game on Aug. 12, 1978.
It broke Stingley's neck, and he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Stingley regained limited movement in his right arm and operated his electric wheelchair on his own.
Stingley's son Derek, on his way to Chicago, said he didn't want to talk about his father until he had time to be with the rest of his family.
The autopsy revealed contributing factors in Stingley's death were bronchial pneumonia, quadriplegia, spinal cord injury and coronary atherosclerosis, the medical examiner's office said.
There has long been debate in Boston and Oakland, Calif. over the circumstances of the hit on Stingley.
Both Gene Upshaw, who played in the game for the Raiders, and Steve Grogan, who threw the pass for New England, said it was a collision, not a hit from behind. There was no penalty on the play, and Grogan's objection was that the hit came in a game that didn't count.
``That hit probably was not necessary in a game with no meaning,'' Grogan added.
It also ignited debates about the violence of the game and made Tatum, who had a reputation as one of the game's fiercest defenders, a subject of controversy.
The two players never reconciled. In 1996, they were supposed to meet for a TV appearance, but Stingley called it off after being told it was to publicize Tatum's book: ``Final Confessions of NFL Assassin Jack Tatum.''
Darryl Stingley was born and raised in Chicago. A star running back at John Marshall High School, he attended Purdue on a football scholarship. In 1973, he was a first-round draft pick of the Patriots, owned by Robert Kraft.
``On behalf of the Kraft family and the entire Patriots organization, we're deeply saddened by news of Darryl Stingley's death, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Stingley family at this time,'' team spokesman Stacey James said.
Stingley served as executive director of player personnel for the Patriots and often visited paralyzed patients. He wrote a book about his experiences entitled ``Happy to Be Alive,'' published in 1983, and 10 years later started a nonprofit foundation in Chicago designed to help inner-city youth.
In a 1988 Associated Press interview, he talked about the day that changed his life.
``I have relived that moment over and over again,'' Stingley said. ``I was 26 years old at the time and I remember thinking, 'What's going to happen to me? If I live, what am I going to be like?' And then there were all those whys, whys, whys?
``It was only after I stopped asking why, that I was able to regroup and go on my with my life,'' he said.
Stingley is survived by his wife Martine and three sons, Hank, John and Derek.

Recent NFL Discussions

Pick Wiz Play 1/15 on Mon, Jan 2017 by Michael Cash
2nd half play ne/hou on Mon, Jan 2017 by Strakey
NFL Championship Betting News and Notes on Mon, Jan 2017 by Blade
Public buries sports books on Mon, Jan 2017 by Blade
NFL WKEND SIDES &OV/UN 8-0 on Mon, Jan 2017 by armyranger
Advertisement

Top NFL Public Bets

Advertisement

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Updated Super Bowl LI Betting Odds And then there were four. What are the odds of the four remaining teams to win this year's Super Bowl?
Thumbnail Pats Open as 6-Point Faves vs. Steelers The Patriots will host the Steelers in the 2017 AFC Championship Game and have opened as nearly touchdown favorites for next Sunday's...
Thumbnail Falcons open as favorites vs. Pack The Falcons will host the Packers in the 2017 NFC Championship Game, where Atlanta has opened as a small favorite.
Thumbnail Steelers vs. Chiefs Prediction Will the Steelers cover as a small road underdog tonight when they visit the Chiefs at 8:20PM ET in the NFL Divisional round of the playoffs?
Thumbnail Steelers vs. Chiefs Odds The second round of the NFL playoffs conclude tonight when the Kansas City Chiefs host the Pittsburgh Steelers at...

NFL Team Pages