ESPN recently aired an E:60 episode on Kansas City Chiefs running backs coach Deland McCullough. ESPN also published a written version of the story which can be read here.
The article is well worth a read, and I highly recommend you check it out if you have the time.
(Editor’s note: This article includes SPOILERS, so if you plan on watching the 30-minute episode without knowing the ending, stop here.)
Man...John Minton and Sarah Spain (and the rest of the ESPN crew) did a great job. Really, really appreciate the effort and care u put into my story...https://t.co/xxscZl0QCX— Deland McCullough (@coachdmc) September 2, 2018
Deland McCullough was adopted by an orphanage at a young age and grew up never knowing where he came from. McCullough excelled in high school football as a running back and was recruited by several local schools.
Eventually, McCullough was recruited by the University of Miami (Ohio). McCullough was recruited heavily by Sherman Smith, who worked for Miami at the time. Sherman Smith took McCullough under his wing and was a great influence for McCullough during his years in college.
McCullough finished his career at Miami and entered the NFL Draft but went undrafted. He was picked up by the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent.
In the preseason, McCullough played well, actually leading all NFL rushers in yardage during the preseason before tearing multiple ligaments in his leg. The injury ruined his NFL dreams and he never played another snap in the NFL.
Tremendous: Chiefs’ RB coach Deland McCullough went searching for his biological parents and found them where he never would have expected, via @SarahSpain.https://t.co/OhPGceJpIB— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 2, 2018
McCullough left the game of football and started a family. He wound up in Seattle as an intern, and all the players loved McCullough. Once again, it was Smith who provided McCullough with the opportunity. Smith had worked his way onto the Seahawks’ staff. McCullough gained exposure while working in Seattle, and it led him to a running backs coach position at USC.
While McCullough was coaching at USC, Pennsylvania (where McCullough was born) released new legislation that allowed adoptees to access their birth records. This enabled countless people to discover who their parents were, which included McCullough.
McCullough submitted a claim to the Pennsylvania government, and he received his birth records. The records included his mother’s name, Carol Denise Briggs, and his own birth name, Jon Kenneth Briggs. Carol Briggs was 16 at the time of birth.
Oh, this Deland McCullough story is one of the best things I've ever seen. E:60 on ESPN.— Dave Biddle (@davebiddle) September 2, 2018
McCullough logged on to Facebook and did a search for Briggs’ name. McCullough found a person under that name and when he compared his family photos to Briggs’ photos, the resemblance was too similar to ignore.
So McCullough reached out to who he thought could be his mother.
It turns out this Briggs was McCullough’s biological mother. The conversations with Briggs turned into conversations about McCullough’s father, and his whereabouts.
Briggs had only told three other people at that time who McCullough’s father was. Shortly after getting pregnant, Briggs was forced to move by her mother, and the father was never aware of having a child.
Incredibly, the father was Sherman Smith, and my jaw about hit the floor when I found out.
The same man who took McCullough under his wing and treated him like his own child while McCullough was in college in Ohio, was his father. Wow.
I honestly can’t believe this story, and I give so much credit to Sarah Spain and ESPN for discovering it. I highly recommend it when it becomes available online.