He is forever frozen in the picture now, this man with blue eyes gazing into a future that would never be his. Chuck Hughes will remain 28 years old and in the middle of a professional football career nobody could have predicted back home in Abilene, Texas. He will never get old. He will never wear down. He will never lose his sturdy chin or his slightly bent nose or his crooked half smile. He will always be young.
Sharon Hughes loved her husband's smile. It had such assuredness. Sometimes she will say, "He was confident, that boy," because that's how he seems to her, trapped for eternity in a hopeful gaze during the last year of his life. She is 68, a librarian and bus driver in a tiny school district in southern Texas. And the 42 years she has lived since he became the only player to die on the field in an NFL game are far longer than the eight they were together. She tries to imagine what he would look like today, at 70, wondering if he would still be handsome. But she can't. SoRead More »from Football Thursday: Legacy of Chuck Hughes goes deeper than being only NFL player to die on field during a game