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Volume 1: Sports Edition
David Eugene Woodley was born a natural talent in Shreveport, Louisiana in the late 1950s. He grew up with his brother in a normal, happy home his brother and only sibling claimed. Many soon, like over the course of his life would notice he was differently built, athletically but mentally too. Forty-four short years were all he had to show for this.
Starting with football at a young age like many young men, David shined in high school. After his days of playing like a man among many boys his talents were noticed by LSU recruits. As a college quarterback his signature win came in 1979. LSU dazzled and found a bowl win in the Tangerine Bowl 34-10 against Clemson. Around this time he met his wife. Life was good for them at the time. She had fallen in love with the impressive Louisiana high school star and college cowboy, but never knew what changes sat ahead of her and especially him. He never let them know what he had going on in his head, so nobody really did.
As his career went on, more and more people would stand beside him but would see him shun that somewhat. He became noticeable around 1980. As the 4th string quarterback at the beginning of the season he broke a completion record by the end of the year. The pre-Marino years were never predictable for anyone at quarterback, but for Woodley he did his best, the introvert he was, and succeeded. Rookies today would not know what was hitting them. Unfortunately, a veteran quarterback named Don Strock came along. After this, his career would take a turn that easily was his biggest professional challenge. 1981 would change not only his career, but many believe eventually his life too.
Strock soon became known for his epic relief performance in the 1981 Chargers-Dolphins AFC Divisional playoff loss that would do nothing to help Woodley's chances. David started this game. His regular season play was good enough to earn him the first string position. Many however now only remember watching his team fall behind 24-0 and slowly the light dimmed on that opportunity. They fell in the end 41-38, despite a hard fought finish with Strock at the helm in the second half. By this time Woodley was fighting demons, internally and externally. Due to the fact many didn't understand this, he played alone in his own mind alongside ten men many gamedays. Instead of his biggest career win to date now everyone identifies this loss as Kellen Winslow's finest hour and the birth of Air Coryell. What it meant was so much more.
Late nights started to wound his marriage around this time period and he continued downhill, almost what he hoped for. This didn't automatically stop his victories and decent play. He did manage an AFC Champiosnhip victory in 1982 over their rival, the New York Jets. A week later however this was followed by a loss in Super Bowl XVII 27-17 to the Washington Redskins where David completed just one second half pass, an interception to Redskin's safety Mark Murphy. Just a year later, what many call the greatest draft in NFL history delivered Miami a Hall of Fame slugger, Dan Marino. His days in Miami soon were ended.
"He was always a loner" said Don Strock. As the years closed in on the recluse athlete, David's drive for more but determination for football stardom deteriorated. He came in for hopeful repair nearing the end of Terry Bradshaw's days eventually in Pittsburgh. However in 1987, he turned down a contract for starting signal caller in Pittsburgh, a team proud in their city for championships every other year. After a brief tryout and cutting in Green Bay, David would lose interest and call it a career. His marriage would soon finally follow. All he could have hoped for was an answer or something better in football. Over the course of his life tenure it ended with a small admiration for local sports, but nothing much else.
Living in a fenced in yard near the end of his life, he checked himself into A-A in 1992 for liver failure. Alcoholism consumed the conclusion of his life. Neighbors of his claim he rarely came outside except for a newspaper in the morning, but that was basically it. In 2003 he checked himself into a hospital that he drove himself to. David may have just needed some sort of end some speculated. All of the times he seemed bizarre and downright crazy, calling phenominal opportunities quits, it was his mind just operating normally to him, but shelled from what other people saw him capable of. Whether old or young, he had help. Sadly he never sought it. He even needed his niece to identify him around the time he died in May of 2003, one of the lone family links left attached him.
How worth it is the spotlight? Is the David Bowie line "fame makes a man take things over" exactly true?" This happily married rarity once glistening against the opposition under the legendary Don Shula as his golden boy, "the quarterback" never desired any of it. Quiet success was all they could have hoped for from him it seemed after sometime, and even that was a stretch. While strangely outcast still nobody who saw him play denied Woodley had the gift. David may have just never been interested.