Two weeks on, Connor Halliday's silence endures

WE'VE TRIED. Vince Grippi of 700 ESPN Radio has tried. So has Lindsay Joy of SWX-TV. And no doubt every media outlet from the Moscow-Pullman Daily News to the Seattle Times has too. But so far there's no piercing of the bunker into which Connor Halliday has exiled himself.

It's been exactly two weeks since Halliday pulled the plug on his NFL quest before it began, and the former Cougar quarterback has been radio silent except for a text to Grippi two weeks ago saying, "I'm done."

"Mostly I’ve tried to get hold of him to make sure he’s okay," said Grippi. "I’ve known him since he was a little kid. We’ve texted just a hair. He’s just not in the mood to talk to anybody about it right now. I don’t know what the reasons are but he just doesn’t want to talk about it right now with anyone who’s probably going to disseminate that information."

"No, I don’t know why," said Jim Moore of 710 ESPN Seattle. "I think the whole thing is just strange."

All we have to hang our hats on is a quote from the unnamed source of ESPN's John Keim, saying Connor “lost his love for football.”

For some athletes, that might work. Mike Reid, an All-Pro defensive lineman for the Bengals in the 1970s, said something along those lines when he walked away from the game after five years. But he was a concert pianist who went on to build a sterling career in music.

Connor is no concert pianist. And that's no insult. He's a football player. We saw it on the field. And based on his words, as well as his mom's in a Sports Illustrated column she wrote a month ago, the lanky redhead doesn't just bleed crimson -- he bleeds pigskin.

Halliday has said in the past that he might want to become a golf pro when football is done. But there was absolutely zero indication he meant he was dreaming of the par-five 16th at Hangman Valley this month rather than the minicamp at Redskins Park.

Two days before he called it quits, the Washington Times quoted him saying how excited he was for his NFL opportunity.

And now here we are, two weeks removed from his shocking decision, and still nary a word from Halliday Nation. One of the most talkative guys on the Cougs the last two seasons continues to be mum.

John Blanchette of the Spokesman-Review said in a column after the news broke that Connor doesn't owe an explanation to anyone.

But it would be a nice gesture to his many fans to offer up a morsel of insight behind his decision. After all, many of these people literally prayed for him and his pro aspirations after the nasty leg break last season against USC.

A couple sentences would do.

Instead, we're left wondering if RGIII looked at him sideways in that first quarterbacks meeting and the cocoon of Spokane suddenly seemed like a Siren's call.

Is the leg acting up?

Did the size and speed of pro defenders convince him that long-term health is a far greater payday than a temporary NFL check?

Did he think, as an undrafted free agent, that he wouldn't get a fair shake and would wind up getting cut?

"I don’t think anyone really knows except for Connor and his family," said Grippi.

All that is known: his decision stunned Grippi, Moore and Cougar Nation. On a scale of 1-10, it was an 11.

"I was really surprised," said Grippi. "Whatever reason came up, knowing Connor and how much he loves the game, it had to be huge. If it was anyone else, I might be digging, digging, digging because you want to find out. But with him, it had to be huge or he wouldn’t have done it."

Washington didn't use any of its 10 draft picks on a quarterback. They were reportedly very impressed by Halliday at his Pro Day in Pullman. The Redskins had three quarterbacks on the roster when they signed Halliday -- Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy. Cousins and McCoy are on one year contracts. RGIII's contract runs through 2016.

"If he was going to have a shot somewhere, Scott McCoy of the Redskins brought him in and believed in him, so why would all of a sudden change his mind? It just doesn’t add up," said Moore.

If Halliday had made the team, he would have made the NFL rookie miniumum salary of $435,000. But in the end, until Halliday decides to let CougFans know, there are no answers.

And that's okay by Grippi -- particularly in light of the injuries Halliday incurred over his WSU career, including a lacerated liver in his freshman season.

"This is my personal opinion about the whole deal: If anyone who has played football his whole life has the right to make this decision because of what has happened to him throughout his career, it’s Connor Halliday. He gave everything he had to the game, almost gave his life to the game, so if he decided it wasn’t worth it to him, boy, he’s got every right to make that decision," said Grippi.

Moore thinks it remains a big story, one made bigger by Halliday's silence. But he also thinks the entire exercise might have turned out moot.

"I don’t think he would have made it in the NFL anyway," said Moore. "I don’t think he was good enough – I just don’t think the accuracy was there… Now, I like Connor, I always enjoyed watching him play. He’s a Coug. And I’m pulling for him. But I didn’t see him making it as an NFL quarterback," said Moore.

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