July, so it's freakin' hot. And back home in Eugene a bunch of teammates for the University of Oregon were doing their annual summer tradition, tubing down the McKenzie River.
It didn't end up a typical day though, as freshman safety Todd Doxey jumped in the river without a tube and subsequently drowned.
It shook the team, family, friends, fans. The whole communities of Eugene and his hometown San Diego felt the sting. This was the second time in four years that the U of O had a football player die (Terrance Kelly 2004).
For a couple days the story was on Sportscenter and in the news, then aside from those following Oregon it was quickly forgotten.
In tribute to Doxey the team wore a 29TD sticker on their helmets, and each home game somebody wore his #29, starting with Doxey's mentor senior safety Patrick Chung.
By all accounts Doxey was a sweetheart of a kid. A solid student, a peace keeper at his old high school in the roughest part of San Diego who had excelled so much both in the classroom and in athletics that his high school retired his jersey number. His lone year at Oregon he donated his gameday tickets to a wheelchair-bound child he'd met. He got along with everybody, everybody loved him, and he was a hell of a football player who everyone was looking forward to seeing play this year.
But this year he won't be playing for the Ducks. He won't be running out of the tunnel. He won't be roaming the secondary. But every Duck player and just about every Duck fan will have #29 on their mind and in their hearts. A year ago today one was taken away too soon.