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August 24, 2011


Derrick Burroughs Erased From History

by tspnnews

Derrick Burroughs, the  former Buffalo Bill was drafted in 1985 as the 14th overall pick in the first round out of The University of Memphis. Derrick Burroughs has had a remarkable football career which ended tragically with a neck injury during a Monday Night Football Game on September 24, 1989 against the Houston Oilers. Derrick Burroughs, the coach always tells his players to keep your head up while making a tackle because Burroughs knows exactly the consequences for not keeping your head up while making a tackle. On September 24, 1989 Burroughs did not keep his head up and this caused his neck to be pushed forward unnaturally and his spine to be severly damaged. Derrick Burroughs’s body went totally limp and Burroughs fell to the ground. Derrick Burroughs found himself paralyzed for over 24 hours.  Derrick Burroughs would never play another game of football. The Buffalo Bills would go on to play in four straight Super Bowls from 1991-1994 and Derrick Burroughs had to watch the team play on television. You would think the Bills would have had a “win this one for Derrick Burroughs mentality”. The Buffallo Bills however, would not even pay his medical bills which then forced Derrick Burroughs to sue the Buffalo Bills in court. After many years int he courts, Derrick Burroughs finally won a judgement against the Buffalo Bills. Derrick Burroughs story seems unbelievable and there really seems to be no logical explanation.

Interesting Facts To Understand Before Reading This Article

  • Derrick Burroughs has never been invited back to Buffalo for any game nor have the Bills ever honored him in any way.
  • Derrick Burroughs has never been honored by The University of Memphis and is barely mentioned in U of M Media Guides even though he was 2nd highest NFL Draft Pick ever from The University of Memphis  which was ahead of Deangelo Williams and Issac Bruce.
  • Derrick Burroughs has applied for coaching positions at The University of Memphis and has  never even been interviewed for a position.
  • Derrick Burroughs’s High School Blount High School in Mobile, AL has never honored Burroughs in any way either. His number has never been retired nor was there ever a Derrick Burroughs’s  Special Night, and he is not in the Blount High School Hall of Fame.
Can You Believe This?

The NFL’s Role

The NFL is the most popular sport in The United States. The NFL makes billions of dollars a year and seems to be invincible. The NFL has long been accused of poorly treating players. The American people’s perception generally is that since the players salaries are so high the player has nothing to complain about. The NFL has never had long-term disability insurance and has seen many players severely injured and paralyzed on national television. The NFL now faces legal action by former players ignoring concussion data and poorly advising players of the long-term effects concussions can have. This story is not about concussions at all, but rather about the power of the NFL. However, I would caution those former players about suing the NFL after looking at what happened to Derrick Burroughs. This Story is about a former Corner Back whose career ended with a serious neck injury on the field September 24, 1989. This player beat the odds and recovered enough to even have a career in coaching but never could play another game in the NFL. However, his former teams have never recognized his accomplishments with any type of award or coaching position on an NFL Team or The University of Memphis his Alma-Mata. Derrick Burroughs has never been back to the Buffalo Bills or the University of Memphis for any type of Derrick Burroughs’s Recognition Night.

Derrick Burroughs’s Coaching Career

Coach Burroughs has been coaching the last 22 years for two reasons. Coaching allows Derrick Burroughs to lives through the kids and play the game that he loves so much. Derrick Burroughs can teach life lessons, the power of prayer, never giving up, and what the true meaning of courage is better than anyone. Could there possibly be a better recipe for a coach, mentor, and a leader?  Derrick Burroughs has been a part of the NFL’s Minority Internship Program with the Indianapolis Colts in 1998, Colts again in 1999, Buffalo Bills in 2001, and the Minnesota Vikings in 2005. Derrick Burroughs was the DB Coach for NFL Europe’s Amsterdam Admirals in 1998, and NFL Europe’s Berlin Thunder. However, none of these stints would land Burroughs a coaching position on an NFL Coaching Staff. Derrick Burroughs would land a spot on the XFL’s Memphis Maniacs with Kippy Brown, who was the head coach of the team. After the XFL defunct, Burroughs would coach at Stillman, and Alabama State University before once again heading to another professional team which was The UFL’s New York Sentinels in 2009. In 2010 Lane College called and offered Derrick Burroughs his first head coaching job and he accepted it. Coach Burroughs is in his second season at Lane College and has brought in a nice recruiting class. Lane College  is a small HBCU that Derrick Burroughs is forced to recruit athletes without the fancy stadiums and Nationally Televised Games. The amazing thing is that so many kids have come to play at Lane College and do so willingly just to play for Coach Burroughs. These students are given a treat with the rich history and topnotch education Lane Offers. The students come to realize that where Lane does not have a national following, Lane offers a family environment. Each player under Coach Burroughs is pushed in the classroom to excel and prepare for life after football. Coach Burroughs understands more than anyone that football alone did not offer him a future career. Derek Burroughs had received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, which sounds a little ironic. Coach Burroughs said ” I grew up watching Miami Vice and hoped to enter the FBI Academy”. The FBI with Derrick Burroughs would have been a sight to see and with Coach Burroughs’s heart we would have had a heck of a FBI Agent. However, Coach Burroughs would instead mentor kids, coach football, and teach his players the best life lessons a young man could possibly have. Coach Derrick Burroughs’s greatest accomplishment in life is that he survived a tragic injury that ended his NFL career, Derrick Burroughs did fall from the spotlight, but his character never fell, but rather rose to monumental heights. Derrick Burroughs deserves a spot on any coaching staff in the NFL and proper recognition from the Bills, The University of Memphis, and Blount High School Mobile, AL. That’s right his high school has never even retired his jersey or recognized Burroughs for his accomplishments. Derrick Burroughs is treated worse than O.J. Simpson and Burroughs has never been in any type of legal trouble. Burroughs has been a role-model and gives back to the community more than most celebrities. Burroughs, has a true love for a game that has never shown him any love. Derrick Burroughs  sued the  Buffalo Bills to pay for his medical bills, because they refused to pay them. Derrick Burroughs would finally win this law-suit after many years in court.  However, the suit is only a small victory for Burroughs who has never been given a fair chance as a football coach or the proper admiration he deserves. Derrick Burroughs’s is proud to be the Head Coach of Lane College and hopes to turn the program into a powerhouse in the SIAC Conference. Coach Burroughs final quote to me was “I am right where God wants me to be and as long as God lets me, I plan to continue coaching and mentoring young men until God finally calls me home.”

Let’s just take a trip down memory lane with two articles written shortly after Derrick Burroughs retired from the Buffalo Bills in 1989.

New York Times Article December 31, 1989

They’re Tackling Bigger Problems : Football: Neck injuries,

sometimes resulting in permanent paralysis, are an

inescapable reality of the game.


There are seven cervical vertebrae in the neck. Start at the top–C-1, as it is known–and slide your fingers over each bony bump until you reach the gap between C-4 and C-5, which should be just about halfway down the length of the neck. Now imagine a force great enough to cause those two vertebrae to collide, effectively crushing the spinal cord and permanently rendering you a quadriplegic.

If you can mentally create such a feeling, you feel like Allen Moore, a 17-year-old linebacker from Northeast Lauderdale (Miss.) High School, who severed his spinal cord while making a tackle during a Sept. 22 game. Not long ago, Moore tried to speak to his mother as she sat at his hospital bedside, but couldn’t because of the tracheotomy tube placed down his throat. So he mouthed the words. Essie Moore understood.

“It’s going to be all right,” he said. “I’m going to be all right.”

If only she could believe him.

Let your fingers linger over C-4 and C-5. In an eerie coincidence, they are the same two that were fractured and dislocated when 20-year-old Chucky Mullins, a University of Mississippi defensive back, rammed the crown of his helmet into the back of a Vanderbilt receiver during an Oct. 28 game at Oxford. Two other vertebrae were also broken on impact. The surgeon who later performed a five-hour operation on the now-paralyzed Mullins likened the spinal damage to that of an explosion.

Mullins has since seen a replay of the hit several times. After each viewing, his face remained emotionless. Except once. That’s when the nurses who care for Mullins knew his tear ducts worked all too well.

Move the hand up to the gap between C-3 and C-4. There, in the tiny valley between the two vertebrae, you can find the reason why the NFL career of Buffalo Bill defensive back Derrick Burroughs, 27, came to a premature end last month when he reluctantly announced his retirement. On Sept. 24, while playing against the Houston Oilers at the Astrodome, which is known throughout the league as “The House of Pain,” Burroughs crumpled to the ground after making what he thought was a routine tackle. His neck had been pushed forward, unnaturally so, causing his limbs to go numb.

A half-hour later, the feeling had returned to his arms and legs, and with it, the sobering realization that he might never again play the game he loved. On Nov. 15, Burroughs announced his retirement in a brief, heartfelt speech. He now says the Buffalo front office gave him no option, except to quit. Team physicians insist, however, that Burroughs should be glad he can even point an angry finger at the Bills, such was the seriousness of his injury.

Perhaps Burroughs should speak with former New England Patriot wide receiver Darryl Stingley, 38, who can describe the view of life from a wheelchair. It is a vantage point experienced ever since Stingley’s spinal cord was crushed during an Aug. 12, 1978, exhibition game against the Oakland Raiders.

One of Stingley’s best friends is Kenneth Jennings, a senior at Simeon High in south Chicago. Jennings’ neck snapped while attempting a tackle on the opening kickoff of an Oct. 8, 1988 game. But while his body is confined to a wheelchair, Jennings’ mind roams free, full of optimism.

“He’s the one keeping our spirits up,” said his mother, Lemmie. “He told us, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be back.’ You know, he could have died. But he’s still alive. There must be a reason for it.”

By John Helyar

This story has been corrected. Read below for details-An ill-fated tackle on Sunday plunged Kevin Everett into a hellish week of loss. Instead of commanding his finely chiseled body, he could do nothing with it — until he finally moved his arms and legs late Tuesday afternoon. Instead of exhorting his Buffalo Bills teammates in the late stages of their game against the Denver Broncos, he struggled to breathe on a ventilator. Instead of shooting for a breakthrough third year in the NFL, his football career almost surely ended.Yet amid all that loss, Everett gained one thing, even if only he knows and appreciates it later: He joined a small fraternity of NFL players who have also suffered severe spinal-cord injuries and now embrace him as a brother. Dennis Byrd, the former New York Jets lineman who was temporarily paralyzed in 1992, reached out to Everett’s family as soon as he could. The message he delivered, he told on Wednesday, is this: “If there’s anything I can do in terms of encouragement, I’d be honored and thrilled to help him in any way I can.”

Kevin Everett

AP Photo/Don HeupelA trainer attends to Kevin Everett after he showed no signs of consciousness following a helmet-to-helmet hit on Denver’s Domenik Hixon at the start of the second half.

Mike Utley, who has made recovery from spinal-cord injuries his life’s work since becoming paralyzed as a Detroit Lion in 1991, stands ready to give Everett a chalk talk on the X’s and O’s of his new physical needs: how to rebuild atrophied muscles, how to watch out for blood clots, and more.”Anything he wants, I’ll jump,” says Utley, who, though a paraplegic, means it — literally. Among Utley’s many vigorous activities these days is skydiving. Everett’s future is more hopeful, and his benefits as a catastrophically injured player are more substantial, than Byrd and Utley experienced after their injuries. If he remains totally and permanently incapacitated from this injury, Everett stands to collect $224,000 per year, for life, in disability benefits from the NFL. Everett is due other near-term payments, too. He will be paid his 2007 salary of $385,000. He will receive a $230,000 “injury protection” payment in 2008. (Under the NFL’s labor contract, a player who retires due to injury gets an extra year’s pay, based on a percentage of his contract.) Everett will also get a $37,500 severance payment, spread over three years. And he also almost surely qualifies for workers’ compensation insurance benefits, which is even more important. NFL players’ health insurance extends for only five years after their retirement. In the state of New York, workers’ comp means lifetime medical coverage, according to Bert Villarini, the attorney who represents the NFL Players Association on such matters in Buffalo.

Dennis Byrd

David Drapkin/Getty ImagesThe Jets’ Dennis Byrd was paralyzed on Nov. 29, 1992, when he ran into a teammate in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“This is an open-and-shut case — injury in the scope of employment,” he says. Everett, of course, is unfortunate to have been severely injured, but fortunate that it happened while he played for a New York-based team. These insurance programs are set up state by state, and in a number of them — including Florida, Texas and Ohio — NFL players sometimes have had problems collecting workers’ comp benefits, according to the NFLPA. Teams looking to reign in insurance premiums often lobby state legislatures to limit players’ eligibility.It seems Everett will be well taken care of financially, as well as medically. That’s good news not only for him, but also for the league and the NFLPA, whose disability benefits have received harsh criticism by retired players in recent months. But Everett’s path to recovery will involve much more than being able to pay the bills. It will be a physical and mental grind that makes summer two-a-days look like child’s play. That’s why the NFLers who’ve already traveled that path can be potentially valuable resources. And while they aren’t swarming him now, they’ve been there; they know better, and they want to be there for him. Utley, for example, says he will urge Everett to transfer to a spinal rehab center because they have specialized expertise and so much experience in these cases. That’s what the ex-Lion did, at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo. Utley says he will also stress the importance of staying positive. That’s been his hallmark ever since he gave the thumbs-up sign to a silent Silverdome crowd as he was carried off the field in November 1991. “Thumbs Up” became the motto of his Mike Utley Foundation, founded in January 1992 and devoted to supporting spinal cord research and rehab advancements. Utley says Everett has every reason to be positive. Whether it’s stem-cell research providing new hope for spinal regeneration, or early-response techniques, such as the ice-cold saline solution that was pumped through Everett’s system to reduced spinal-cord damage, Utley says, “The treatment is so much more advanced than when we were first going through it.”

Mike Utley

John Heller/WireImage.comMike Utley stayed positive through it all, including here at the Paralysis Project of America 13th Annual Sports Legends Awards in 2004.

Staying positive is also vital to handling the psychological trauma that accompanies the physical trauma. Derrick Burroughs, whose spinal-cord injury ended his career as a Buffalo Bills defensive back in 1989, doesn’t even recall the bodily pain, even though he was paralyzed for 24 hours. But he’ll never forget the emotional pain of watching his old team play in four straight Super Bowls without him. “What was tougher for me than anything physical was dying at home, watching those games,” says Burroughs, who soon felt abandoned and forgotten by the Bills. Though he had major back surgery to fuse his third and fourth vertebrae, Burroughs couldn’t resign himself to retiring. He flew around the country, trying to find a spinal specialist who’d say he was OK and could play. Many nights, he awoke from vivid dreams about playing. Burroughs finally gave up the ghost and went into coaching. Today, he’s the defensive backs coach at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Hopefully, Everett won’t have the same experience Burroughs says he did. But Byrd says it’s very easy for a catastrophically injured player to feel isolated. “It took me years to realize that just because I had the injuries didn’t mean I couldn’t keep up the affiliations [with Jets teammates],” says Byrd, who now coaches high school football in Tulsa, Okla. He has the use of his arms and legs but has disabilities associated with all of them.

Derrick Burroughs

Al Kooistra/WireImage.comBills defensive back Derrick Burroughs, shown here in a 1988 playoff game, suffered a career-ending spinal cord injury the next year.
Injured football players might be particularly prone to withdrawal, Byrd believes, because they’ve drawn so much of their esteem from their physical skills. When those are gone, he asks, who are they? “I learned people love you for who you are, and that was very pleasing for me to learn,” Byrd says. “I would love for Kevin to know he’ll always be a Bill.” Utley would love to see Everett enter his annual Dam2Dam Thumbs Up! Bike Tour, a fundraiser for the Mike Utley Foundation in which riders with various degrees of paralysis hit the road for 25- to 100-mile treks, on Sept. 29. Burroughs says he doesn’t have immediate plans to contact Everett, but he does believe in the power of the spinal-cord fraternity. He became close with Chucky Mullins, the Ole Miss defensive back who was paralyzed in a game in 1989 and died in 1991. And Burroughs has already tried to aid Everett in another way. He led his Stillman College team in a prayer for him. John Helyar is a senior writer for and ESPN The Magazine. He previously covered the business of sports for The Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine, and is the author of “Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball.” In a Sept. 13 story on Mike Utley was incorrectly termed a quadraplegic in a story. Utley is a paraplegic.
Derrick Burroughs Banned for Life by the Buffalo Bills and The NFL

Bill Polian was the new General Manager of the Bills in 1985.  Derrick Burroughs played for the Buffalo Bills from 1985 to 1989.

Buffallo Bills 1985 Draft Choices Rated Number 9 All-Time by NFL Films. However Derrick Burroughs name was never mentioned. I understand Bruce Smith, Andre Reid, but Frank Reich a career backup is made to look like a Pro Bowl Quarterback. Frank Reich had one game the comeback game against the Oilers. Reich was not responsible for any Bills Superbowl appearance. Jim Kelley was the Quarterback in Buffalo and Frank Reich simply held the clipboard. Derrick Burroughs was coming into his own in the NFL before his career was tragically cut short with a serious neck injury. This is absolutly the most insensitive, hurtful, and just plain disrespectful thing anyone could do to Derrick Burroughs. Derrick Burroughs name has forever been removed from NFL History, and yet O.J. Simpson remains in the Hall of Fame. The other athletes that suffered spinal injuries have been embraced by their former teams and teammates. Derrick Burroughs vanished from the spotlight that once shine brightly on the former Defensive Back almost overnight.

Round Overall Player Position Birthdate College
1 1 Bruce Smith DE 06/18/1963 Virginia Tech
1 14 Derrick Burroughs DB 05/18/1962 Memphis
2 29 Mark Traynowicz OG 11/20/1962 Nebraska
2 42 Chris Burkett WR 08/21/1962 Jackson State
3 57 Frank Reich QB 12/04/1961 Maryland
3 63 Hal Garner LB 01/18/1962 Utah State
4 86 Andre Reed WR 01/29/1964 Kutztown
4 112 Dale Hellestrae OG 07/11/1962 Southern Methodist
5 130 Jimmy Teal WR 08/18/1962 Texas A&M
6 141 Mike Hamby DE 11/12/1962 Utah State
7 169 Ron Pitts DB 10/14/1962 UCLA
8 197 Jacque Robinson RB 03/05/1963 Washington
9 225 Glenn Jones DB 12/04/1960 Norfolk State
10 253 Chris Babyar OG 06/01/1962 Illinois
11 282 James Seawright LB 03/30/1962 South Carolina
12 333 Paul Woodside K 09/02/1963 West Virginia

Here are some of his accomplishments while playing football at The University of Memphis. Derrick Burroughs has never been offered any coaching position at The University of Memphis.  Derek Burroughs has applied many times to his Alma-Mata and never even received an interview. Derrick Burroughs number was never retired and he has never been recognized in the program or asked to appear at a University of Memphis football game.

Position: Defensive Back

College: University of Memphis


  • 1985- First Team All-Conference
  • 1985- Defensive Player of the Year
  • 1985- Selected to Blue Gray All-Star Team
  • 1985- MVP of the Blue Gray All-Star Team
  • 1985- Buffalo Bills Drafted Burroughs with the 1st Round 14th Overall Pick
  • # 2 All-Time Highest NFL Draft Pick in The History of The University of Memphis Football Program
The Conclusion of the Derrick Burroughs’s Story
This can not be written yet and thus I can only say the following. My name is Ken Williams and I am a small town sports writer and broadcaster who has covered many local high schools and colleges in the South-Eastern United States. I met Derrick Burroughs last year briefly. I remembered Burroughs from Buffalo because of the neck injury. I assumed Burroughs jerseys have been retired, and he had been honored by his former teams and shown proper respect. So, I too owe Derrick Burroughs an apology. The reason this article can not be completed is because there is still a chance for The Buffalo Bills, Bill Polian, The University of Memphis, The NFL, and Blount High School to make amends with a legend.
Join the Derrick Burroughs Redemption Campaign Sign Up add Facebook page and send this story to everyone you know. The Power of your voice is stronger and has more of an impact than you ever could imagine.
Coaching Jobs Derrick Burroughs Deserves and
  1. NFL Teams-Defensive Back Coach, Coordinator, Head Coach(Buffalo Bills,  Jim Haslett)
  2. University of Memphis- Head Coach-Defensive Coordinator(Never Been Interviewed)
  3. Division I College Head Coach-Defensive Coordinator
  4. Honoring Derrick Burroughs
  5. Buffalo Bills- Retire his Jersey/Should be inducted as an Honorary Member of The Hall Of fame
  6. University of Memphis- Retire His Jersey/Hall Of Fame
  7. Blount High School-Seriously rename your high school Derrick Burroughs’s High
  8. The Rest of  us- Remember Derrick Burroughs as a great football player and role model.
We will keep this story updated. Send us who you forwarded this to and how you can help to
Derrick Burroughs Deserves It
Read more from LANE COLLEGE, MEDIA
3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 29 2011

    I’ve met Derrick and worked with him on several projects. I have never seen anyone so passionate about a game and so determined to make his mark still in the sport. By far his greatest impact is on the youth and young adults whom he continues to push to excel and inspire to pursue this sport that has so abandoned him in many ways. Good luck Derrick, the end of the story has not been written yet. Let’s hope that redemption is near.

  2. Dorothy
    Dec 29 2011


  3. Dec 29 2011

    I didn’t know much about Mr. Burroughs’s NFL career, but when I came to Memphis in 1989 he was a fixture here on the Memphis scene. I knew a many of women wanting to be impregnated by him I guess for the prestige of being connected to him or for financial gain.

    I hope that he can be of service for those young men out there that’s got enough talent to not only get scholarships to colleges but to go on to the NFL . When your physical days are behind you it’s imparitive to realize that your game was mental not physical you can pass that attributes on to young minds that shows the capacity his mental gift. Good luck to you Mr. Burroughs and I whope your carrer doesn’t go in vain.


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