Parker Moore should have taken the field with his Linfield College football teammates this fall.
But in November 2014, on a day that was otherwise filled with reason to celebrate, Moore was stabbed to death by a stranger in the checkout line of a 7-Eleven in McMinnville, Oregon, near the Linfield campus. Hours before Moore’s death, the Wildcats had clinched the Northwest Conference title and a berth in the NCAA Division III football playoffs with a 59-0 victory over Pacific University (Oregon).
The law enforcement investigation revealed no motive, and Moore’s killer was later shot to death by McMinnville police after refusing to drop his weapon.
“It was devastating,” Linfield football coach Joe Smith said. “Parker was a unifying person who kind of touched everybody on the team. Some kids touch their position group or their class, but he bridged the gaps with everyone.”
This season, to honor Moore’s memory, Linfield football coaches chose junior linebacker Kyle Chandler to wear Moore’s No. 35 jersey for the 2015 season. They plan to continue the tradition every year at Linfield.
The player chosen most likely will be an upperclassman defensive player who exemplifies Moore’s characteristics.
“Parker was the kind of person that we want our program to be about,” said Smith, a former All-America defensive back at Linfield. “It will be someone who puts the team ahead of himself. It will be a person with a great work ethic, and it will be someone with great integrity.”
Last year, Linfield made an inspired run in the Division III football playoffs by downing Chapman University, 55-24, in the first round, then winning road games at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (31-28) and Widener University (45-7). Their run ended with a 20-14 semifinal loss at eventual national champion University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
All along, the Wildcats carried Moore’s No. 35 with them. His jerseys will be displayed this season in their locker room and during practice, and in the weight room in the foreseeable future.
“Everywhere we go as a team, he’ll be with us,” Smith said. “Those reminders are important so guys can keep things in perspective.”