Story of John Tuggle
By Joe Black | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
John Tuggle was a New York Giants football player that was the last player taken in the 1983 NFL draft. With that last spot goes the unfortunate moniker “Mr. Irrelevant.” You see, very few last picks ever make a team anywhere.
John Tuggle was neither ordinary nor irrelevant. Against all odds, he made the team and at the end of his rookie year, was named the Giants’ Special Teams Player of the Year.
That’s when things went downhill for him. He and his college sweetheart divorced. A knee injury required surgery. He was in an auto accident and it was discovered that he had an aggressive form of cancer. His diagnosis: Angiosarcoma, that had settled in his lungs. He was given six months to live.
Not only did that not stop him, it didn’t even slow him down. His response to the diagnosis? ‘’Well, am I gonna sit around and cry about this or am I gonna take this as day one of beating it?’’
So instead of rest and recuperation, Tuggle did what he knew best — work even harder. Already a legend in the weight room, he put even more energy and dedication into his fitness level in a battle against his cancer. Despite his cancer, he continued to play football in 1984 and 1985.
Think about that for a moment. He was getting chemotherapy and radiation, went through several surgeries, had a cancer diagnosis that was terminal, and yet continued to play professional football.
Teammates with things as insignificant in comparison as an ankle sprain were reluctant to complain.
How could they?
After the 1985 season, his contract was up and he was not re-signed to the Giants. Physically, he just wasn’t able to compete.The cancer had taken too much from him.
I knew the basics of the story but only after watching ESPN’s 30 for 30 Shorts did I know the rest. If you haven’t seen it, you can probably find it on the internet. It’s worth watching but make sure you have a handkerchief handy.
For Coach Bill Parcells, cutting Tuggle was just about the hardest thing that he ever did. And although he was no longer a member of the team, the Giants continued to pay for his health insurance (and would do so for the rest of his life). He died the next year at age 25. Watching video of Tuggle play football and talk about his life can only inspire you. Inspire you to work harder, to live life to its fullest, to dedicate yourself to something bigger than yourself.
Of course he didn’t want to die. Until the last moments, he thought that he could beat the cancer. He didn’t win but he did give it his everything, lived the life he imagined, and knew where he was going after that last breath.
What more can we ask?
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation. (email@example.com)