"I lost my wife," McEndoo replied. "I don't want to lose my best friend, too."
There is no better balm than time. Last October, McEndoo met someone special, Ruth Padgett, who at the time was a senior at Washington State. "She is the single biggest reason that I've been able to get through this," he says.
Last November, Knuff and McShane were driving to the store when Knuff announced it was time for McShane to get behind the wheel again. McShane drove the VW no more than 50 yards before stopping. "He had to get out," says Knuff. McShane still prefers to avoid driving.
Next month the Cougars will travel to Seattle to play Washington. One tradition of the game is that the visiting team buses the 288 miles to the other school, which would require McShane to revisit the accident site. "I won't drive that highway," he says. "I'll only go if I can fly. I'll pay my own plane fare."
On the anniversary of the crash McShane sent flowers to Michelle's parents. He also phoned McEndoo, and they talked about where the year had taken them. They decided to room together during preseason practice, for road games and on the nights before home games this season.
On Aug. 30, a hot summer day, the Cougars opened the season with a 37-34 home win over UCLA. This time the line did not yield a sack and McEndoo remained on the field until the clock read 0:00. Up in the press box sportscasters discussed more trivial what-ifs, such as, what if UCLA had kicked a field goal on fourth-and-goal? On the turf below, two friends sprinted toward each other and shared a hug.