Those of us who remember that game, a meaningless pre-season game, recall the sinking feeling as we saw him go down, and he never got up under his own power. He was a quadriplegic at the age of 26.
The hit was delivered by Oakland Raider Jack Tatum, who never once apologized and who in fact gloried in his role as "The Assassin" (the name of a book he wrote years later) even after the hit that changed Darryl's life forever. The players/friends who played with Darryl considered it a cheap, dirty hit, and that opinion has never changed.
The Raiders had a reputation for being dirty players in a sport that had more than its share. Patriots' Nation remembers: in 1976, with one of their best teams before the Brady/Belichick era, heading toward the playoffs, playing the Raiders out in Oakland, having the game stolen from them by such an absurd phantom penalty call that even some Raiders admit it was fishy.
Bad taste in the mouth from that stolen game.
What happened in 1978 was far, far worse.
Oakland Raider head coach John Madden visited Darryl nearly every day in the hospital. Madden gets a lot of flack for being 'past it' as a broadcaster. I will always respect him for what he did in 1978.
Through the years we remembered Darryl and were glad to learn of his forgiveness. Whenever we see a bad hit and a player on the ground not moving, the dread comes back. We hold our collective breaths until the player gets up again, as we did when Reche Caldwell was knocked unconscious this year, but he got up, thank Goddess.
They always say what goes around comes around. In 2001, the Patriots won a playoff game against the Raiders in the snow in Foxboro, the 'tuck rule' game. It took 25 years, but there was payback.
Jack Tatum? He has diabetes and they've amputated his leg and may have to do more.
Darryl Stingley is in a better place now. He's free.