Oregon's Jeff Maehl Plays With Fallen Teammate Todd Doxey on His Mind
One is the name of his hometown, Paradise, California. The other a memorial to former teammate Todd Doxey.
Maehl was with Doxey (right) on the McKenzie River on July 13, 2008 -- along with a large group of Oregon athletes -- when Doxey jumped approximately 20 feet off a bridge, got caught in the river current and drowned.
He was pulled from the water by a fisherman, his friends too far down the river in their inner tubes to get back to him. He died hours later at the hospital.
Doxey was 19 at the time of his death.
"It was one of the hardest days of many of our lives, especially the guys that were there and saw what happened," Maehl said Friday.
Doxey, a redshirt freshman defensive back, was Maehl's close friend and roommate. They came in as part of the same recruiting class in 2007. They'd been living together two weeks when Doxey died.
Maehl said there was a large group of friends on the river that day.
"It was just a big group of us trying to have a good time that day," Maehl said.
Maehl jumped off the same bridge. Neither were wearing flotation devices.
The Oregon senior wide receiver said he will "never forget the images in my head that day.
"It's not something I like to think about, but it's something that happened and it's something that affected me and changed my life forever," Maehl said. "It is a tough situation to think about. I will never forget those pictures in my head."
Maehl has gone to that spot at the river in the two years since Doxey's passing and left flowers in the water. He pays tribute to Doxey with a personal gesture after every touchdown he scores.
During the season following his death, different players wore his No. 29 during games.
The team has instituted the Todd Doxey Award for the player who "best exemplifies the spirituality and dedication" of Doxey. Spencer Paysinger and D.J. Davis shared the award this season.
Maehl, who said he will try to get in touch with Doxey's parents after the BCS Championship Game, pays tribute to his friend beyond his tattoo. He remembers Doxey as one of the hardest workers on the team, a quality he's tried to emulate, even on days where it is tough to get motivated.
"We pushed on because he was such a hard worker and it's something he wanted just as badly as all of us," Maehl said. "For us to have the opportunity to do this and for him to get cut short, I'm just living through him and I go out every day and try to work hard like he did."