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Where Am I? It Has To Be A Bad Dream
Darryl Stingley
August 29, 1983
Five years ago New England's superb wide receiver, Darryl Stingley, went up for a pass in an exhibition game and was cut down by Oakland's Jack Tatum. As a result, Stingley became a quadriplegic. Here is his story of the ordeal that followed
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August 29, 1983

Where Am I? It Has To Be A Bad Dream

Five years ago New England's superb wide receiver, Darryl Stingley, went up for a pass in an exhibition game and was cut down by Oakland's Jack Tatum. As a result, Stingley became a quadriplegic. Here is his story of the ordeal that followed

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Darryl Stingley last evening suffered a fractured dislocation injury of his cervical spine. Neurosurgeon Dr. Manard Pont was assisted by Dr. Donald Fink, the Oakland Raiders' team physician, in an operation that lasted approximately one hour. Stingley had cervical-traction tongs placed with the correction of the dislocation. This morning he has gained some right-arm motion and had some sensation in his entire body. There is NO PROGNOSIS at this time. No photos. No interviews. No visitors.
—MEDICAL BULLETIN
9:00 A.M., P.D.T., SUN., AUG. 13, 1978
EDEN HOSPITAL, CASTRO VALLEY, CALIF.

Good morning, Mr. Stingley," the voice said.

Good morning? What did she mean, good morning? It was Saturday night in Oakland, and we, the New England Patriots, were playing an exhibition game against the Raiders and about to go in for a touchdown. Good morning? It was night, not morning.

Wait a minute. Where am I? Why am I flat on my back, in bed, staring at a white acoustical ceiling? Why is this lady in a white coat saying, "Good morning, Mr. Stingley"?

It had to be a bad dream.

I tried to move my head, to check out my surroundings. My head wouldn't move. Not an inch. I tried to lift up my right arm. Nothing happened. I tried to move my left arm. Nothing happened. The same thing with my feet; as hard as I tried, I couldn't move them at all. I started to cry and couldn't even wipe the tears that were forming in puddles on my face.

Where am I? What's happening to me? Who's here with me?

"Ma! Ma! Ma!..." I said over and over at the top of my voice, calling for my mother. But the words never came out. "Tina! Tina! Tina!..." I shouted, calling for the mother of my two little boys. But the words never came out.

Then the lady in the white coat was standing over my bed, looking down at me. "Don't try to talk," she said. "You can't talk anyway because your mouth is full of plastic tubes that suck out the phlegm and keep you from choking to death. Those tubes up your nose are part of the respirator that's helping you breathe." With that, she left the room.

I shut my eyes and started to cry again. It all began to come back. We were driving for a touchdown against the Raiders, and it was third down and eight at their 24-yard line. In the huddle, Steve Grogan, our quarterback, called the play: 94-Slant. My assignment as the primary receiver was to run an eight-yard slant-in pattern; that is, I was to line up strong-side right—the strong side always being the side of the quarterback on which the tight end sets up—and then go downfield for eight yards and cut into the middle at about a 45-degree angle. At that point I would be between the linebackers and the corner-back—an open target for a second or two.

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