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Remembering John Tuggle, 30 years after he was Mr. Irrelevant

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Three decades later, the 1983 NFL draft is remembered as one of the most significant dates in shaping the recent history of the league. John Elway, the first overall pick of the Colts, would be the subject of some of the most intense trade talks the NFL has ever seen when he said he wouldn’t go to Baltimore. And six Hall of Famers would be selected in that first round: Elway, Eric Dickerson, Bruce Matthews, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino and Darrell Green.

Not many people know the story of the last player selected that year.

John Tuggle was Mr. Irrelevant, a Cal running back whom the Giants selected with the 335th and final pick of that 12-round draft. Tuggle made the team and did more than just that, becoming the special teams MVP for the Giants and a player the Giants’ new coach, Bill Parcells, thought would be a building block of the team he was trying to assemble.

But 1983 would be Tuggle’s only year in the NFL. And an impressive new documentary film made as part of ESPN.com’s 30 for 30 Shorts series tells the story that most football fans in 2013 don’t know. It’s a story football fans should hear, and it’s a short film that’s well worth 11 minutes of your time.

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14 Responses to “Remembering John Tuggle, 30 years after he was Mr. Irrelevant”
  1. fballguy says: Apr 19, 2013 10:48 AM

    I remember John Tuggle and knew his story. I’m a Ram fan through and through, but growing up in CT, the Giants were the local team and covered extensively in our newspaper. What a moving piece. I’ll probably watch it again…and again.

  2. tremoluxman says: Apr 19, 2013 11:07 AM

    I just gained a new respect for Parcells. He is human. That was a powerful film. Twenty-five years is way too short to live.

  3. wisbadgers says: Apr 19, 2013 11:09 AM

    This is the first time I’ve ever posted on PFT .

    What a moving piece. You can see that he definitely had an effect on Parcells.
    Thanks for directing me to this video.

  4. granadafan says: Apr 19, 2013 11:15 AM

    That was an excellent piece. I was too young to watch Tuggle play, but my dad and grandfather used to tell me stories about Tuggle and Chuck Muncie at CAL.

  5. raiderufan says: Apr 19, 2013 11:16 AM

    Wow…I’m glad I watched that. Very well done and moving.

    Thanks for bringing an awareness to this story.

  6. mfb73 says: Apr 19, 2013 11:35 AM

    A nice (and sad) story for all Giants fans and non-Giants fans..

  7. torturedraiderfan says: Apr 19, 2013 12:14 PM

    Powerful. I remember John Tuggle, Doug Kotar, Dan Lloyd, all Giants that had cancer. Sad.

  8. finfanrod says: Apr 19, 2013 3:14 PM

    I hardly ever post on here but I had to thank you for leading me to that story. It was a very moving story and although as a Dolphins fan I don’t tend to like Parcells much, it moved me to see how affected he was by this sad event. Thank you again.

  9. jimmylions says: Apr 19, 2013 5:52 PM

    Cool! I’m sold! Thanks for the head’s up. I’m going to watch it.

    (and thanks for not including spoilers)

  10. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Apr 19, 2013 11:59 PM

    Damn. That was one powerful piece. Tuggle seemed like such a special guy. That is a real tough one to swallow. Wow.

  11. slucerotoo says: Apr 24, 2013 8:23 PM

    I went to middle school and high school with John. He was always a “man amongst boys”.. and we all knew he was destined for something great.

    A really nice fella.

  12. jdub916 says: Apr 26, 2013 2:41 PM

    Tugs, a 76er for life. Saw the ESPN piece. Very touching. Broke out the IHS yearbook and went back down memory lane. Brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes success is having more patches than you have holes in your inner tube. #75 One Love!

  13. odietr says: May 1, 2013 1:15 AM

    There is a picture in the 79 IHS yearbook of Tuggle
    running with the football and he is looking straight at the camera, should have used that photo in the film. It was no mistake that Coach Al Cementina got IHS varsity uniforms like the Dallas Cowboys, the offensive lineman even went up and down during plays, I think some fans even sent pictures to Tom Landry or Tex Schramm. The east foothills in the background of Tuggle’s pictures have more houses on them now.

  14. odietr says: May 1, 2013 1:42 AM

    I remember the story of the cancer cluster on the Giants team, which some thought was because of the location of the stadium. Dan Lloyd (who also was coached by Al Cementina at James Lick High) was forced to quit football because of cancer. But he returned to San Jose and coached Pat Tillman at Leland High.

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