for the phone to ring
No one called. Did anyone answer his call?
Richard Linde, 4 June 2002
Saturday, September 16, 2000, Rick
Neuheisel led his Washington Husky football team onto Folsom Field to play the
Colorado Buffaloes, under the most bitter of circumstances. Hard feelings and acrimony still lingered in Boulder, nineteen
months after Neuheisel had accepted a lucrative offer from Washington’s
athletic director, Barbara Hedges, to coach the Huskies and leave the
local media and the faithful fans at Folsom wanted to exact some revenge;
they wanted a payback--a Colorado win--for Neuheisel’s unexpected
in the game, with Washington leading 17-14, cornerback Anthony Vontoure
stripped the ball way from Colorado receiver Eric McCready, on a play that
vendetta. Larry Tripplett recovered the fumble. That moment sealed Washington’s
win and made certain Coach Neuheisel left Boulder with his dignity intact and
his head held high.
had Anthony Vontoure to thank for that.
week before, in the Miami game, the talented Vontoure sacked Hurricanes’ quarterback Ken
Dorsey on a cornerback blitz, forcing a fumble that Vontoure recovered, setting up
the Huskies’ third touchdown. That key play against Miami earned him the
coach’s defensive MVP honors.
Friday at 4AM,
Vontoure, 22, died
after a struggle with two Sacramento
County, Calif., sheriff's deputies outside an apartment. The
cause of death has not been determined. "At
no point did officers ever strike him, nor did they use any control
holds," Sheriff's spokesman Sergeant James Lewis was quoted as saying.
to the police report, Vontoure was hallucinating, screaming that “men in green
masks” were going to get him. [Grump].
an autopsy failed to show the cause of death, it was determined that toxicology
tests will be needed.
It make take months to determine the cause of death.
According to newspapers accounts of the incident, Vontoure
may have suffered from bipolar disorder or from some other form of depression or
mental illness. For those people suffering from such conditions, aberrant
behavior can be a cry for help, as well as being a symptom of such diseases. Many
times victims of mental illness will use illegal substances and/or alcohol to
ease their pain, which only exacerbates the condition.
Although their behavior is a call for help, many times the line
on the other end is busy. Even worse for them, these unfortunate souls can be
the object of ridicule, since their behavior is not readily understood by
Mental problems may explain the run-ins Anthony had with
Washington coaches during his stint with the Huskies. Vontoure was disciplined seven
times by Washington coaches, and before the start of last season, he and Coach
Neuheisel agreed it would be best for him to leave the program. Coach Dick
Baird, who helped recruit him, was certain Vontoure received counseling for his
condition while at
Washington. The Huskies recruited him knowing he had behavioral
Last season, Vontoure enrolled at Portland State, which seemed
to be a better milieu for him, since some of his high school teammates
were there, along with his position coach, Nigel Burton, who had been
a teammate of his at Washington.
A caring, loving person, Vontoure was deeply affected by
the loss of his older brother Chris, who died in a drowning accident in 1993.
He was also deeply saddened by the 911 tragedy, and reportedly left Portland
State because the
reaction by Portland State was "not sufficiently reverential to what had
happened," his stepmother Mari Martinez-Vontoure was quoted as
saying. "He was disillusioned." [Cokran].
According to his
father Michael Sr., Vontoure
twice returned cash-laden wallets, routinely gave money to homeless people and
lived for football. [Cokran].
A letter written by his father will be read at Vontoure's
funeral Friday at St. Agnes Church in Concord. Services begin at 12:30 p.m.
Visitation is scheduled for Thursday night at 7 at Ouimet Bros -- Concord
Whether Vontoure was suffering from a mental problem, a
behavioral problem or just an out-of-control temper at times, he obviously deserved more consideration
from the fans. [Miller]
According to a quote
in the Seattle Times, Nigel Burton
remembers Vontoure as someone who, "95 percent of the time, he was just a
great guy. (But) when he'd get down, he'd get really down. He would be really
hard on himself. I think what a lot of the public has heard, through
newspapers, I don't think they have one clue. He was a pretty special
Responding to a
question from one of his readers, David Samek of dawgman.com had this to say
about Vontoure, “Anthony
Vontoure and the UW parted ways, a mutual decision. He reportedly is at
Portland State this year and will be a senior.
I have a hunch that you may see him in the NFL next year
(2002). He's very talented. It's a shame that he and the UW coaches weren't
able to find a solution to the issues involved in that situation, but life goes
on. Lets' hope Anthony does well because he's not a bad kid at all. Just
confused, and his temper got him into trouble.”
On a personal note,
I met Anthony Vontoure at Curtis Williams’ funeral in Fresno. I found him to
be an extremely nice person, a guy with whom I wanted to chat with again.
I’ll never forget his friendly smile, along with that touch of ingenuousness
and candidness. He wore his personality on his sleeve, so obvious for all to
see. He told me he was waiting for the phone to ring. "I was gone for a
little while and might have missed it," he said sincerely.
moment in my life will forever be with me.
The phone has finally rung, and AV’s answered it. God bless him.
[Withers]. Withers, Bud, “Definitive cause not
determined in Vontoure's death; Police suspect drugs played a function,”
The Seattle Times, 4 June 2002.
Gwendolyn, “Man dies as officers try to take him in,” The Sacramento Bee,
June 1, 2002.
Steve, "Vontoure remembered as caring, loving person," Contra
Costa Times, June 3, 2002.
[Miller]. Miller, Ted, "A life
cut short: Anthony Vontoure's 22 years were filled with turmoil,"
Seattle Post Intelligencer, 2 July 2002.
Anthony Vontoure (6-1, 190), born July 8, 1979;
died May 31, 2002.
1996. Led his De La Salle High School team to a 14-0
record and number one ranking in California. He was chosen to the Cal-Hi
Sports first team, all-state squad.
1997. Redshirted at Washington
1998. Backup behind Nigel Burton at rover back. Was
limited in the second half of the season by a broken hand.
1999. Switched from safety to cornerback. Started in nine
games. Missed the Oregon game due to a suspension. A groin pull limited his
action in the last two games of the season. Led the defense with six
interceptions. Led the defense with six pass breakups. Returned interceptions
for scores against Oregon State and Arizona. Named the KING-TV Most Improved
Against Colorado Vontoure stripped the ball away from receiver
Eric McCready, and Larry Tripplett
recovered the fumble. That play in the game ensured Washington’s victory over
the Buffs. A
week before in the Miami game, Vontoure sacked Hurricanes’ quarterback Ken
Dorsey on a cornerback blitz, forcing a fumble that he recovered, which set up
the Huskies’ third touchdown. That key play against Miami earned him the
coach’s defensive MVP honors. He started in five games and missed two. He
missed the Cal and Arizona games because of a foot injury and missed the
Washington State game because of a hand injury that required surgery
2001. Transferred to Portland State. Decided to leave
after three weeks.