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Former Patriots WR Darryl Stingley dies at 55

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots are saddened to learn of the death of former wide receiver Darryl Stingley today.

"This is a sad day for all who knew Darryl Stingley," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "I had the pleasure of meeting Darryl on multiple occasions and was touched by his positive outlook on life. He was passionate about his faith and his family and always showed compassion for others. In my conversations with Darryl, he always spoke of the future, not the past. I don't think he ever held grudges and I know that he was uncomfortable accepting anyone's sympathy. He wanted to find ways to positively impact the lives of those around him and did so throughout his life. On behalf of my family and the entire New England Patriots organization, we offer our sincere condolences to the Stingley family."

Stingley, 55, was drafted by the Patriots in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft with the 19th overall selection (acquired in a trade from the Chicago Bears in exchange for running back Carl Garrett). He was the third of three first round picks for the Patriots that year, joining guard John Hannah (fourth overall selection) and running back Sam Cunningham (11th) to form what most would consider the greatest first-round draft class in franchise history. In five seasons with the Patriots (1973-77), Stingley appeared in 60 games and recorded 110 receptions for 1,883 yards (17.1 avg.) and 14 touchdowns. As a rookie in 1973, he tied for second on the team with 23 receptions for 339 yards and two touchdowns, earning a spot on Pro Football Weekly's All-Rookie Team. He led all Patriots wide receivers with 17 catches in 1976, and in 1977 he posted career highs with 39 receptions for 657 yards (16.8 avg.) and five touchdowns. His playing career was cut short due to a tragic neck injury on August 12, 1978 in a preseason game against the Oakland Raiders.

For 12 years following his injury, Stingley served as a consultant for the Patriots from his home in Chicago. In 1983, Stingley wrote a memoir of his life and of his injury titled Happy to Be Alive. In 1991, he returned to Purdue University to complete his studies and received a bachelor in arts degree at the school's commencement ceremony in 1992. In 1993, he founded the Darryl Stingley Youth Foundation in Chicago, with a mission to service the needs of the city's youth with an emphasis on assisting underprivileged at-risk children on the city's west side, where he grew up. Stingley is a member of the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humanities from Springfield (Mass.) College in 1985.

Stingley is survived by his wife, Martine, his three sons, Hank, John and Derek, and several grandchildren.

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