Luke Falk has pulled out of Saturday’s Senior Bowl game, citing a desire to attend the funeral services for teammate Tyler Hilinski in California, Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times is reporting, citing Falk’s agency.
The former quarterback of the Washington State Cougars has been in Mobile, Alabama, all week, participating in Senior Bowl practices and conducting interviews with NFL teams and media.
Unsurprisingly, Hilinski’s suicide has never been far from Falk this week, as Falk chose to wear number 3 in honor of his former teammate, while media have asked him about it during interviews.
Of course, he handled those with the kind of thoughtfulness and grace that Cougar fans have come to expect from him over the past four seasons.
“It should be talked about, and we should do something about it,” he said. “I feel like at times we feel like we can’t express our emotions because we’re in a masculine sport and him being a quarterback, people look up to you as a leader. He felt like he really probably couldn’t talk to anybody. We’ve got to change some of that stuff. We have to have resources and not have a stigma of people going to that. ...
“All of us that were close to him just kind of go back and ask ourselves, ‘Were there signs? What could we have done?’ I think we all kind of feel a little bit of guilt. I wish I could give him one more hug. I wish I could give him a pat on the butt one more time and let him know that he’s loved.”
"The hurt is never going to stop hurting... I really hope that a positive comes from this, that people start talking about it."@WSUFootball QB Luke Falk is wearing No. 3 at the @SeniorBowl in honor of Tyler Hilinski. pic.twitter.com/GUwhsyYw6Z— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 24, 2018
Leaving the game is a heck of a gesture. It also helps that Falk fully participated this week, which is generally considered the more important part of the process, and it appears to have gone well. And let’s be honest: NFL teams have 40 games worth of video with which to evaluate him, and one more where he’s throwing in an unfamiliar offense to unfamiliar receivers probably isn’t going to change much one way or the other.