14 July 2011

Post 100: "Six Years Later, Still a Tiger"

AO25 April 1, 1986 - July 12, 2005. Always a Tiger.
AO25- Always a Tiger
by MizzMatt 7/14/11
Six years. That's how long its been since Mizzou linebacker Aaron O'Neal collapsed during a preseason workout on Faurot Field. July 12 marked the official "anniversary" of his passing, and the weeks that followed were met with harsh criticism on the way the workouts were conducted. The official ruling from the Boone County medical examiner (ME) stated that AO died from viral meningitis, and it could've taken his life during any regular activity such as walking through the mall or sitting on the couch at home.

It was just out of sheer coincidence that he collapsed on that July afternoon, but when he did, trainers said "There was nothing that could be done." Aaron was driven to the hospital by then-medical director Rex Sharp where he was pronounced dead.

The team, however, took the loss hard. 19-yr old O'Neal was a prodigy on the field, despite being redshirted his freshman year. The University took measures to ensure he would be honored throughout his would-be career at Mizzou.
  • Moment of silence before multiple games, including having the team line up on the 25-yard line.
  • Preserving his locker behind plexiglass.
  • Helmet stickers with "25".
  • No player issued the number 25 through the 2008 season, when members of the senior class took turns wearing the number in honor of their classmate.
  • AO25 printed along the sidelines of Faurot Field.
Though the ME had already given his determination, years would go by without any closure. It wasn't until 2009 when closure finally came. The O'Neal family sued head coach Gary Pinkel, Athletic Director Mike Alden, medical director Sharp and 11 other trainers and coaches in a wrongful death case, and in May 2009, the University of Missouri reached an undisclosed settlement (at the time) with Aaron's mother, Deborah. The case was brought in response to the way the medical staff handled Aaron's hereditary sickle cell trait, and failing to fully recognize the condition.

The loss is six years old, but the hole he leaves is still fresh in many minds. Aaron was described as being a good friend to all, being an outstanding and gifted athlete and someone who cared more about others than himself.

AO25- Always a Tiger.

Play free web games.

Use the countdown generator to create your own countdown.