Longreads

Fans called football cornerback Jackie Wallace The Headhunter. He played for the Vikings, Colts, and Rams. He played in two Super Bowls. But drug addiction undid the life his talent had built, and he found himself homeless in New Orleans. For The Times-Picayune, photojournalist Ted Jackson traces Wallace’s complicated life of triumph, tragedy, and redemption, and the ways the two men met at different points in their lives.

Their relationship started with a chance meeting under the Interstate 10 overpass, where Wallace told the photographer, “You ought to do a story about me.” That suggestion produced a 1990 newspaper cover story that brought Wallace’s struggle to light, and helped garner the support he needed to break the cycle the disease had trapped him in for so long. The two became friends. When Wallace disappeared after years of sobriety, Jackson went looking for him. Wallace disappeared again last summer. His…

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