The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

October 19, 2009

HERTZEL COLUMN - Stewart, players mourn death of UConn’s Howard

MORGANTOWN — Just twelve hours earlier there was a winning smile on Bill Stewart’s face. Why not? His West Virginia football team had just beaten intrastate rival Marshall and the injury to his quarterback, Jarrett Brown, was not nearly as serious as it first appeared.

Yet there he was on Sunday morning, tears in his eyes, his heart weighing heavily in his chest.

Word had just reached him that Jasper Howard, a starting cornerback at Connecticut, a kid he was expecting to be trying to beat this week, was dead.

It was shocking, senseless death, the victim of a stabbing on campus the night after UConn had defeated Louisville in its homecoming game. As police put it together there was a dance at the Student Union in Storrs, someone pulled a fire alarm, a fight broke out and Jasper Howard wound up laying in a pool of blood on Hillside Road near the center of campus.

It was not long after 12:30 a.m., and who was it once said nothing good ever happens after midnight.

By the time Stewart arrived to do his weekly Sunday afternoon conference call, the shock perhaps had worn off but the grief remained.

Some people talk about the heart, others talk from the heart.

Bill Stewart was clearly shaken.

He is that kind of man. A caring man, a sensitive man, a person who understands that football is an entertainment medium, a diversion, but that in the real world it does not rank with such matters as health and family.

It is a game, not a religion, and when a real world tragedy interrupts the games people play, Stewart believes it is time to step back and reflect upon the important things in life.

“First and foremost, I would like to start with a very sincere, heartfelt condolence statement by the Mountaineer football staff, and most importantly the team and the whole West Virginia nation, to the situation with the UConn football family,” Stewart said to begin what would be a remarkable press conference.

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Bob Herzel
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