Sunshine: The Tragic True Story of the NFL's First Suicide
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On September 9, 1924, Sidney ‘Sunshine’ Gepford, the former professional gridiron star and freshly minted Athletic Director of Marion High School, locked the door to his room and shot himself with the school’s starting pistol.
Despite placing the bullet below his ear, the 27-year-old had marked his chest with a target, circling his heart and drawing two long lines across the center.
He had laid out five sealed letters, addressed in turn to a fraternity brother; a collegiate football teammate; a former high school sweetheart; his sister, and finally, his mother. A sixth letter lay open on the dresser.
The newspapers that carried the story over the next few days pointed to the overwhelming pressure of teaching and coaching as the cause of his suicide.
But his family and friends, who were all said to be ‘mystified’, disagreed.
Sunshine is the account of one of the NFL's first players in the pioneering early days of the league, and how he likely became its first victim of concussions, nearly 100 years ago.
It follows the life of a man whose friends once called the 'hero that all the less-gifted youngsters dreamed of emulating’, and how he prematurely ended his life after becoming 'tortured' from concussions sustained on the gridiron.
53 pages, PDF