You may be familiar with all-world cornerback prospect Derek Stingley Jr., who’s in his third season with the LSU Tigers. He burst on to the scene in a massive way as a freshman in 2019, recording six interceptions on a team that won the national championship, and featured other NFL stars like Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He was allowed the distinction of wearing LSU’s most coveted number 7, which is only given to the very best the school has had to offer(Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Leonard Fournette have all donned the number).
Despite all of the well deserved recognition and hype for Stingley Jr’s talent, there’s a dark cloud hanging over him, and members of his family who played the sport they loved before him. Stingley Jr was recently sidelined with a foot injury, and it might be enough to cost him the rest of his junior season in Baton Rouge. Even if the shutdown corner heals in time to make an impact later in the campaign, he might decide to sit out and get ready for the 2022 NFL Draft.
“We don’t know when or if he will be back,” Tigers coach Ed Orgeron said. “If not, we have to carry on.” Via ESPN.com
After his tremendous freshman season, Stingley Jr. had some bumps in the road in 2020. He was forced out of three games due to a non COVID illness, and a nagging leg injury.
As someone who profiles to be a difference maker on the next level, one can only hope to wish Stingley Jr well on his road to recovery for his latest injury. But Stingley Jr’s troubles at such a young age are a little spooky, especially when considering what happened to his father, and more notably, his grandfather.
Stingley Jr.’s father, Derek Stingley Sr., also played football. He wasn’t quite as talented as his son is shaping up to be, or as skilled as his father Darryl. But he was a great athlete, as evidenced by his three year career in the baseball minor leagues, and his nine years spent playing arena and semi-pro football. Stingley Sr., however, was knocked unconscious in a football game. That didn’t stop him from letting his son play the game he loved, however.
The real chilling injury story happened with Darryl Stingley, who is Derek Stingley Jr’s grandfather. He was an acclaimed playmaking wide receiver coming out of Purdue University. The New England Patriots took him with the 19th overall selection in the 1973 NFL Draft. Darryl’s numbers, by today’s NFL standards, were modest for a receiver of his talent. However, in 1977, he was setting career highs in yards, catches and touchdowns. Things looked to be heading in a promising direction after five years in the league.
However, during a preseason game against the Oakland Raiders in 1978, Darryl Stingley’s life change forever. After a crunching hit from Raiders safety Jack Tatum, Stingley was badly injured, with two of his vertebrae crushed. It left him paralyzed, with limited movement for the remainder of his life.
“I was 26 years old at the time and I remember thinking ‘What’s going to happen to me? If I live, what am I going to be like?’ And then there were all those whys, whys whys?” Stingley said in 1988. Via ESPN.com
For the extremely tough hand he was dealt, Darryl maintained a positive attitude around his son Derek Sr.
“Dad never blamed anything on anybody; he thought it was a freak accident, one in a million,” Stingley Sr. said. “The thing he(Darryl) always said is, ‘You can’t go out there thinking you’re going to get injured, because then injury just may find you. You understand the risk, but you don’t play scared.;” Via The Advocate.com
There’s no doubt that in light of all that has happened to his family, Derek Stingley Jr. understands those risks as well as anyone. Even in the face of his current adversity, it’s a good bet he won’t play scared once he’s able to make it back to the field.