TAMPA, Fla. — He went from Super Bowl IV glory to civilian life. When the cheers fell silent, former Chiefs offensive tackle Jim Tyrer struggled to find meaning and purpose.
Likely struggling with football-induced brain damage, in 1980 the father of four killed his wife Martha and then himself.
Now two documentary directors want you to know that Tyrer was a good man.
“Anybody who wants to say that the Jim Tyrer story is what happened on Sept. 15, 1980, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kevin Allen said.
Co-directors Allen of Olathe and Steven Hebert of Overland Park were drawn to that good man. Allen is a Chiefs fan who first pursued a radio news career; one of his last stories in Washington, D.C. was a murder-suicide.
“It kind of made me sick to my stomach that we were there for such a short amount of time and then we were off to the next thing,” Allen said.
Hebert was a war zone photographer whose experiences left him with post-traumatic stress disorder. He’s not a football fan at all but was drawn to Tyrer’s story and its lessons.
“Not my story but the story of all men and all people who love their work and who are looking for purpose in their life,” he said.
Allen and Hebert’s purpose is to tell the story of triumph over tragedy, of grandparents who stepped in immediately to make life Tyrer’s children — Tina, Brad, Stephanie and Jason — normal again.
“You’re talking about moving into a house where your daughter was killed, and sleeping in the bedroom because the house can’t be sold at that point,” Allen said. “And yet, making those kids feel like, we’re going to be alright.”
And they would be alright.
Those four children, thrust into a place of darkness, emerged into the light of adulthood. They launched careers, long-term relationships and, for some, children of their own.
But, left in the dark, haunting questions remained.
“You don’t care about who your parents are when you’re teenagers,” Allen said. “You get around your 50s… ‘Tell me that story about.’ And then I’ll have that. So we’ve been, they’ve been asking questions and we’ve been getting answers.”
And with answers, peace has slowly come.
Tyrer’s son Justin will even be in Tampa this weekend, wearing his dad’s Super Bowl IV ring.
“To define somebody by the last 10 seconds of their life is a tragedy in and of itself,” Allen said.
Allen and Hebert have traveled thousands of miles and done dozens of interviews to put together their documentary. They hope to have it fully finished this year.