This deserves the front page. You nailed it, Quinn. -Takimoto
I couldn't enjoy this afternoon's game. It wasn't our poor showing in the first half. It wasn't the mistakes we made with the fumble on the mesh, or the numerous unnecessary penalties. It wasn't the offensive line's inability to make space for LaMichael James to run through.
It was losing Nate Costa that really stung.
I've known Nate Costa for a while now. I've been going to fall practice for the past three years and watching the team in its infant state play. There are the players that you can tell are self-centered. There are the players that you can tell need work on certain parts of their game. There are players that look overwhelmed by the competition.
And there was Nate Costa. He was always there. Somewhere between a player and a coach, Costa always had his head on straight. There have never been any "Nate Costa accused of robbing a fraternity" or "Nate Costa caught speed racing" or "Nate Costa mulling over transfer options" headlines. Because through it all, Nate Costa never wanted to be anywhere else.
I've talked to Nate a few times. Always a respectful and sincere fellow in conversation, I grew to become one of Costa's biggest fans. I'm not sure if anyone remembers or cares, but I was on the Costa train all through fall camp. Watching him play during camp was extremely inspiring to watch. I knew that we would always be safe with Nate. If things were going poorly in the game, I felt that there would be a feeling of safety with a smart, athletic, and seasoned Senior quarterback in Nate.
Nate is one of the few players I've ever felt comfortable calling by his first name. And it wasn't just me. Whenever he would enter the games in the second half the past two years to get some empty snaps, he'd always get a round of applause. Everyone would call him Nate. Any other name would have sounded cold, for a young man who has given so much to stay a Duck. He has inspired players like Drew Davis and Jeremiah Johnson to keep pushing and taking care of themselves after enduring knee injuries of their own. Costa has endured three knee injuries in the past. One in high school. Another during his sophomore year in the middle of the year, a season that would see the quarterback depth chart in particular fall to its fifth-string option. Coaches Bellotti and Kelly had said that after Dennis Dixon had gotten injured, Nate Costa could have come in and enabled the team to run the same offense at a high level and possibly have led us to a few more wins. The next year, he was in line to take over the reins as starter of the Oregon offense going into the 2008 season. A week before the season began, Costa endured an "incident" and was sidelined for the entire season with what turned out to be his third torn ACL in four years.
When Nate went down today, I buried my head in my hands. Everyone knew what it was. Nate knew. The Washington staff on the sideline frantically waved over the trainers from the Oregon sideline. Nate was helped off by two trainers without putting any pressure on his right leg. A few minutes later, the cart appeared from the tunnel. Nate was on the sideline with crutches. He got onto the cart and was rolled out of the stadium. And just like that, he was gone.
I realize this reads like a eulogy. It's not supposed to. Nate Costa was one of the truest and most upstanding Ducks we will ever see. You cannot appreciate a player and person like Nate Costa enough, and I have a pipe dream hope that after graduation Nate could think about being an assistant on Chip Kelly's staff. He is too smart to not hold on to. It is simply not fair that these things have to happen to good guys in college football. There are so many players who really do things the wrong way. Nate Costa was one guy who did things the right way. Sometimes life just isn't fair like that.
We love you, Nate, and you are an inspiration among inspirations to us.