Four football seasons after Waldrep’s devastating accident, New England Patriot wide receiver Darryl Stingley was the victim of a back-breaking tackle in a game with the Oakland Raiders. Today Stingley, 30, can move only his bead and right arm, but be is learning a new trade with his old team, serving an apprenticeship as a spotter of future talent.
Always when I’m at my weakest, I call upon my religion,” Stingley says. “I have a little talk with my God every day.” But Stingley insists his dark days are now infrequent and that he has adjusted to the injury that kept him hospitalized for eight months. He now gets around with the aid of an electrically equipped wheelchair and is supervising the outfitting of a Chicago condo designed to accommodate his special limitations. Although he is vulnerable to colds and last year suffered a collapsed lung, his overall health is good, and each month he flies to Boston to review game films as the Patriots’ executive director of player personnel. “Going out is like a shot in the arm for me,” he says. “It’s a challenge to see how far I can go and move about independently.”
Outspoken in his criticism of football’s growing level of violence, Stingley has been in contact with Waldrep and hopes to persuade the NFL to sponsor public service TV announcements in behalf of the handicapped. His own doctors remain pessimistic about his chances for further physical recovery, but “whatever they say makes no difference as long as I’m alive,” professes Darryl. “In fact, the sky’s the limit. I think I have more hope than the average person.”