Sept. 21, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) - Washington linebacker Dan Howell kept hoping all through the Huskies' trip to Oklahoma that his father, Keith, was going to be fine, despite complications following heart surgery.
A day after losing to the Sooners, while watching film of the game, Howell learned his father had died.
"It's tough. I can't call home to Pops anymore. The reality is setting in," Howell said Wednesday, the first time he has spoken publicly about his father's death on Sept. 10. "Normally when I call home, Dad is the one that picks up."
Keith Howell, 57, had heart surgery on Sept. 5. Complications developed just before the Huskies left to play at Oklahoma, but Howell said his mother, Dinah, told him his father would be OK.
Howell started his third career game against the Sooners and recorded three tackles. The next morning, Howell's mother again told him his father would be fine, but he passed away that afternoon.
"I would have walked home that night if I was able to," Howell said.
He returned to Newhall, Calif., on Sept. 12. His father's memorial service was last Saturday, ending just before Washington kicked off against Fresno State. Howell didn't watch the game, but was getting regular updates about the Huskies' 21-20 victory.
Howell thanked his teammates for "assuring my sanity has been intact," and practiced for the first time on Tuesday. He has also taken comfort from coach Tyrone Willingham. His father and Willingham could have been brothers, he said.
Howell is expected to start on Saturday when the Huskies host UCLA in the Pac-10 Conference opener for both schools.
"An hour after it happened, he was doing great, unbelievably well," Washington linebackers coach Chris Tormey said.
Tormey and Willingham met with Howell for a few hours after learning of his father's death. "I think it's a testament really to his strength of character and his background in how he's handled the whole situation," Tormey said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press