Just listening to Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup recall the ecstasy of playing a role in the game-winning drive in a 22-19 victory against the Atlanta Falcons only to have his world shattered a few moments later when his sister met him amid the celebration to tell him about the suicide death of his brother makes tears well up in your eyes.
“That was by far the toughest thing I had to do was hear news like that,” Gallup said Sunday in his first media interviews since his brother Andrew took his own life.
“You don’t know how to think. Just sit there and cry. I just cried. I got in the car with my sister and cried the whole way home.”
Gallup didn’t return to Dallas with his teammates after the Atlanta game. He stayed in Georgia for a couple of days before returning on Tuesday to prepare for the Thanksgiving Day victory against the Redskins before returning for the funeral on Friday.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones allowed him the use of his private jet to get back and forth.
“Being able to go back home when I need to and being come back here, he definitely hooked it up for us,” Gallup said of Jones.
He also thanked the Jones family and his teammates and coaches for their support.
“Sending my mom and my family food, flowers and cards to try to bring their spirits up I definitely appreciate that,” Gallup said. “I can thank them enough for everything they have done for me and my family.”
Gallup, who was born in Atlanta but was raised in Monroe, Ga., is the youngest of eight children and one of six who was adopted.
Gallup said the support of the Cowboys, as well as the escape of playing football for three hours, was one of the reasons he decided to play the game in the middle of the tragedy.
“It was more of the fact that I need to be there for my team,” Gallup said. “They have always been there for me. I was there for my family. I sat down with my mom and I asked if I was good to come back and play. She said of course, ‘go have fun’. It was very important to me to make that game.”
“You can out there and have fun and play free for three hours, do what you want. That is the way I looked at it.”
The situation remains tender to Gallup who didn’t want to talk about the circumstances surrounding his brother’s death. It will take a long time to get over, if ever.
He said the best advice he got was from Lt. Col. Kevin Jarrard, the former commandant at the Riverside Military Academy where Gallup went to junior high and high school.
“Make sure you are talking to people. Don’t go home and sitting by yourself not talking to nobody,” Gallup recalled. “That is the biggest thing because you start thinking about things. Just make sure you are talking to people. Don’t let anything bottle up. And I have had friends up here ever since I got back. I got people at my apartment right now making sure when I go home I got somebody to talk to.”