Darryl Stingley, paralyzed by one of the most infamous hits in the history of professional football, was remembered for the grace with which he accepted his life-altering injury at his funeral yesterday in Forest Park, Ill.
"For almost 30 years, people wanted to hear Darryl curse God or at least curse the man who took his dreams away," said the Rev. Edward C. Brown, Stingley's cousin. "Darryl was a good man. He didn't stop serving God just because he had a life of suffering and pain . . . He lived a life focused on the future and not on the past."
Stingley, a star receiver with the New England Patriots, was left a quadriplegic after a hit by the Oakland Raiders' Jack Tatum while trying to catch a pass in an exhibition game on Aug. 12, 1978. Stingley's neck was broken, and he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
He died Thursday at age 55. An autopsy found that bronchial pneumonia, quadriplegia, spinal cord injury and coronary atherosclerosis contributed to his death.
The 90-minute funeral service was attended by Stingley's family and friends from his Chicago boyhood, as well as his college and professional football careers.
* The Green Bay Packers signed Nick Barnett to a contract extension, assuring the middle linebacker will not become a free agent after next season.
The extension replaces the final year of Barnett's 5-year rookie contract and runs through 2012. Terms were not disclosed.
The 6--2, 232-pound Barnett, 25, has led Green Bay in tackles 3 of the past 4 years. He finished with 105 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions last season, despite missing a game with a broken hand and playing the final month of the season wearing a bulky cast.