Pete's Arboblog - Danelo thoughts

I heard the tragic news about Mario on a phone call with my best friend Stephanie Truitt, who called me as I was having a late snack with my writing group at the Pike in Long Beach.

As soon as she told me I called Paul and left a message with him, then called Hoppe to see what he knew, and he had just heard the news as well.

We had heard he might have been cliff climbing or rock climbing, but now, according to reports, that is obviously not the case. Foul play has been ruled out, and I can personally not imagine a scenario in which Mario would take his own life—a kid this cool and seemingly happy with his life and friends and general situation…no way. Anyone who conjectures about such things without VERY strong evidence of such practices the worst kind of humanistic traits imaginable. A real reporter who goes forward with a story that conjectures this, during a time of tragedy is at best irresponsible and at worst a malicious coward.

Even if it pans out and Mario for some reason killed himself by jumping off of a cliff in the dead of night, morality and practicality suggest you might wait a few days or even weeks before suggesting it without real solid information, which is unlikely to ever surface.

More than likely. He slipped and fell. It was more than likely an accident.

It hit me in the stomach like so many of you. People die every single day. Not very often do people die that you actually know. Even less often is it a young person.

As a member of the special teams, and as I have mentioned several times in previous blogs, I had more than ample time to get to know Mario and his mates—Will, Troy, Mike McDonald, Taylor, David B and a few others—this season. We talked about the team about games, about places to travel and eat. We talked about game strategy and coaching. About fantasy game finishes in which each were involved in some game saving or winning moment.

Mario said if he ever hit a game winning field goal at the gun, prior to being pummeled by his team mates at the bottom of a dog pile of humanity, he would turn and point to me in the press box and I to him from my lofty perch, just to say "Hey, we talked about this moment and how you would make the game winner, and now look!!"

I inducted each into the International Association of Turtles. We talked at practice, at hotels, in line at the airports and on the plane rides to and fro.

Not that I am one of his closest friends or anything, but I suggest perhaps as close as anyone other than family over the age of 50. He was a quiet guy, spoke easily with everyone, seemed to have a funny sort of smile on his face most of the time. Not a place kicker's mentality that I could tell, and I've been around a few. Actually, when he first came, he looked a little like Ryan Killeen with the shaved head I wasn't sure which was which.

Obviously accurate, and an NCAA as well as USC record holder. Not a tremendous range, but we didn't need his services from way outside very often, so it didn't really matter. And he still had time to strengthen that leg and get that range to take his game to the next level.

I'm very sad. Been in a funk about this since I heard about it. See you all at the services for a cool dude—Mario Danelo. Top Stories