Darryl Stingley Hit By Jack Tatum – Paralyzed From Neck Down

Darryl Stingley Hit

The tragic incident of Darryl Stingley Hit by Jack Tatum remains one of the saddest moments in the history of American football.

Darryl Floyd Stingley, born September 18, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, was a remarkable athlete and scholar who left an indelible mark on the football landscape.

A standout running back and honor student at John Marshall High School, Stingley’s talents earned him a football scholarship to Purdue University.

Under the guidance of head coach Bob DeMoss, he underwent a positional shift, transitioning into a wide receiver.

In 1973, Stingley’s prowess on the field was recognized when he was selected nineteenth overall in the NFL Draft, paving the way for his professional career with the New England Patriots.

Throughout his five-year tenure with the Patriots in the National Football League (NFL), Stingley showcased his skills as a wide receiver.

In 60 regular-season games, he accumulated an impressive record, amassing 110 receptions for 1,883 yards and contributing 14 touchdowns.

Despite the brevity of his professional career, Stingley’s impact was significant, leaving a lasting legacy in the annals of football history.

His journey from high school standout to a critical player for the Patriots is a testament to his athletic prowess and dedication to the sport.

Darryl Stingley Hit By Jack Tatum

The event unfolded during a preseason game on August 12, 1978, when the New England Patriots faced off against the Oakland Raiders.

In a pivotal moment on the field, Stingley, a talented wide receiver for the Patriots, was reaching for a pass over the middle of the field.

Darryl Stingley Hit
Darryl Stingley fell to the ground after he was hit. (source: wcvb)

Simultaneously, Jack Tatum, a renowned defensive back known for his aggressive playing style, swiftly closed in on him.

The collision between the two players proved catastrophic, resulting in severe damage to Stingley’s spinal cord and fractures to his fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae.

The aftermath of the hit was heart-wrenching, with Stingley lying incapacitated on the field at Oakland Coliseum. Subsequently, he was transported off the field on a stretcher, marking the beginning of a life-altering journey.

The consequences of the collision left Stingley with incomplete quadriplegia, condemning him to spend the remainder of his life in a wheelchair.

The incident had profound implications for Stingley’s health and sparked debates and discussions about player safety in football.

It serves as a poignant reminder of the physical risks and challenges associated with the sport, prompting ongoing efforts to enhance safety measures within American football.

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Darryl Stingley Paralyzed From Neck Down

Darryl Stingley, a former standout wide receiver for the New England Patriots, endured a tragic fate during a preseason game on August 12, 1978, when a hit by Jack Tatum left him paralyzed from the neck down.

The incident was particularly devastating as the collision, which occurred while Stingley was reaching for a pass, resulted in severe spinal cord damage and fractures to his cervical vertebrae.

Darryl Stingley Hit
Darryl Stingley was wheelchaired for life after the incident. (source: recordonline)

Remarkably, despite the life-altering consequences of the hit, Stingley harbored no animosity toward Tatum.

In a display of resilience and forgiveness, Stingley chose not to hold grudges against the player responsible for the catastrophic collision.

On the other hand, Tatum, known for his aggressive playing style, never publicly apologized for the hit.

While he attempted to reach out to Stingley several times, these efforts were often intertwined with promoting his autobiography, “Final Confessions of NFL Assassin Jack Tatum,” a title that raised eyebrows for its insensitivity.

The incident involving Stingley and Tatum served as a pivotal moment in the history of football, prompting a reassessment of player safety.

Although the hit was considered legal then, subsequent rule changes were implemented to mitigate the risks of such violent collisions.

Stingley’s unwavering courage in the face of adversity remains an enduring source of inspiration, illustrating the resilience of the human spirit even in the wake of profound tragedy.

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