Connor Halliday’s decision to quit football doesn’t add up

May 20, 2015, 9:47 AM | Updated: 10:09 am
"All I'm asking for is a chance just to get my foot in the door and work by butt off once I get there," former Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday said in January about his hopes of playing in the NFL. (AP)
(AP)

When the news came out last week that Connor Halliday had retired from football, I was as surprised as anyone.

We had talked to him on our show from the Seattle Sports Star of the Year awards at Benaroya Hall in January. He sounded fired up for his chance to play in the NFL, drafted or not.

Halliday told us about his rehabilitation from a broken leg, an injury suffered against USC on Nov. 1 that ended his record-breaking career at Washington State. He didn’t sound like a guy who was going through all of this work to suddenly quit one day, right before his opportunity was scheduled to begin at the Redskins’ rookie minicamp.

His mom wrote a story for SI.com late last month detailing her son’s passion for football.

“Football owns Connor in a way that has nothing to do with love of the game,” Jessica Halliday wrote. “It’s in him; it simply is him. I believe an X-ray of his heart would reveal it to be oblong-shaped and made of pigskin.”

She also wrote about one of the many times her son was injured and told he couldn’t play the following week. Halliday would tell doctors: “You can’t stop me. I’d rather die in the game than not play.”

He said it’s always been his dream to play professional football, and now he’s giving it up 24 hours before he gets his chance?

None of it adds up. No one has talked at length with Halliday. Radio station 700 ESPN in Spokane broke the story, apparently getting a text from Halliday that simply read: “I’m done.” No explanation, just an “I’m done” with football.

There’s nothing on Halliday’s Twitter timeline, either. He hasn’t tweeted since May 12 when he wrote: “I love being from Spokane Washington.”

(I also happened to notice that on April 18, Halliday Tweeted that “Ben and Jerry’s Cotton Candy ice cream is the best thing I ever had in my life,” which made me think I’ll have to try it.)

His high school coach at Ferris, Jim Sharkey, talked to Halliday a few days before Redskins rookie minicamp and said Halliday was excited about his chance to earn a roster spot. But 72 hours later, a source reportedly said he lost his love for football.

Some say it’s Halliday’s business and none of ours, which is fine. But it doesn’t make sense. And when something doesn’t make sense, we speculate until we find out what the reasons were.

What could have possibly happened to trigger an about-face with Halliday? I don’t think you go from lifelong dream to rehabbing like crazy to getting your chance to realize your lifelong dream to abruptly quitting unless there’s something fishy going on. But as far as what that “fishy” is, I have no idea. Saturday night I spoke to Jacob Thorpe, who covers Cougars football for The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, and he didn’t know what prompted Halliday to quit.

In the long run, this might be the best thing for Halliday and his health. He was frequently battered at Washington State and even played one game with a lacerated liver. In high school, he ruptured his spleen.

Plus, as good as he was as a college quarterback, I never thought he was going to make it in the NFL. Then again, that’s just my opinion and I’ve been wrong over and over again about players I didn’t think would make it in the pros.

I thought he lacked the consistent accuracy needed in the NFL, and his lack of mobility wouldn’t help him either. But I looked forward to watching it play out with Halliday, and now all we’re left with are a bunch of questions and no answers.

Wyman & Bob

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Connor Halliday’s decision to quit football doesn’t add up