Interception by Howell truly an inspiration
The ball came floating toward the one Husky who truly had something to mourn. Dan Howell was in the ideal position, so perfect you figured...
Seattle Times staff columnist
The ball came floating toward the one Husky who truly had something to mourn. Dan Howell was in the ideal position, so perfect you figured it preordained. He only needed to raise his hands.
Once the ball arrived, he grabbed it softly. Then the linebacker started running. And as he would say later, it seemed "like I was in the end zone the next moment."
The most dramatic play of the most dramatic game of the Tyrone Willingham era of Washington football climaxed so heavenly, with a 33-yard interception return that left you thinking one thing.
Who has faith now?
For more than two years, the talk has been about what the Huskies have lost, how they're coping and how long before they return to normal. On a day when some answers came, so did perspective. How fitting it was to see Howell, the Husky who lost his father just two weeks ago, clinch a 29-19 victory that supposedly accelerates an entire purple-and-gold community's healing.
"It's almost like one of those divine interventions that you seldom see," Willingham said of Howell's interception.
Later, Willingham added: "There are certain things that, at least I think, we have no human control over. I'm hoping that was one of those things."
If you are religious, then you will believe it was Keith Howell guiding his son.
If you are not, then you should at least believe in the poetry of the moment.
Over the past two weeks, Howell has shown us how to recover from a struggle. The football program has merely been the victim of sports' cyclical nature. Real pain comes when your 57-year-old role model dies of complications from heart surgery. Real recuperation comes when you follow your role model's memorable advice.
"'Be strong. Stay focused. Get your job done. No excuses,' " Howell said. "That's what my father used to tell us. If I allow his death to get me down, I'd be failing him."
To honor his father, Howell has added more conviction to his daily living. It's not OK just be to a good guy who does most things right; he's trying to do everything right now. It's not OK to be a good linebacker, a starter; he's trying to make big plays now.
Keith Howell sweated his way to grandeur. A Barbados immigrant, he turned his natural skills into a career as an electrical contractor. In addition to contributing to Dan's growth, the father saw one child (Keith) graduate from Harvard and another (Renah) begin college at UC Davis and another (Delano) become one of the nation's finest high-school football prospects. The children talk among themselves about the Howell legacy.
"We have a name to represent and a memory to uphold," said Dan Howell, whose family resides in Newhall, Calif. "My dad's a fighter."
So is the son.
He's the one they tease in practice about not catching the ball. He's always dropping interceptions during workouts.
"I'm, like, 1 for 13 in interceptions since the preseason," Howell said, laughing.
Linebacker Tahj Bomar corrected his teammate: "He's probably 1 for 20."
It didn't matter Saturday. Washington had just taken a 22-19 lead, completing a riveting comeback from a 16-0 deficit, when UCLA quarterback Ben Olson threw a pass into the flat. Howell was right there, where the coaches told him to be.
"After I caught it, I just thought to myself, 'I'm not getting caught,' " Howell said. "Then, when I crossed the goal line, I just thought, 'I just scored a touchdown!' "
His thoughts quickly turned to his father.
"It probably took about 0.02 seconds," he said, grinning. "I almost couldn't breathe. It was unbelievable. I knew he was watching me, and all I could do was come out and play my hardest.
"I feel him all the time. I know he's here with me. Now I realize I'm capable of doing a lot more things than I thought. It lets me see that there really is no box. Everything starts with a thought. Now I expect myself to intercept the ball and score a touchdown. Now that I know my dad's watching, my thoughts are to do better and do a little bit more. I have extra motivation to do everything right."
Be strong. Stay focused. Get your job done. No excuses.
"The interception by Dan Howell at the end was very appropriate," Willingham said.
The healing can begin now, for all.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|The Huskies' win over UCLA was just their second Pac-10 victory in the past three seasons.|
|2005||1||at Arizona, 38-14|
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
email@example.com | 206-464-2277
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