I've been struggling trying to decide what to say about the Kenny McKinley tragedy, and I'm still fairly unsure that I'm exactly capable of saying how I feel about it. And I think that's what really jumps out at me as significant about this story--how shocking, senseless, and, indeed, unfair to everyone involved that the story seems to be. It's always painful when someone important to you dies, and there could hardly be anyone closer to Gamecock Nation than Kenny, the consummate hard-worker and team player. Suicide, though, adds shock to the pain, because you typically don't have any conception of why it happened and what motivated it. That's certainly the case for Kenny, who by all accounts was a happy man who was beloved by all around him. That someone like that could want to take his own life is hard to fathom, and if there's anything to learn from that, it's that depression and anxiety are burdens that, sadly, are oftentimes borne alone. I know that most of you have probably watched the video of Steve Spurrier being waylayed by reporters immediately after learning what happened, and his response really tells you a lot. It's not often that you see Spurrier at a loss for words like that. It's a tough video to watch.
I know that there's a lot of speculation going on in Gamecock Nation right now regarding what the story is behind Kenny's death. People want to know if it was really a suicide, and if so, why he did it. Honestly, though, I have little interest in learning these "facts." If something explanatory of this nature comes out, it'll probably be saddening, but it probably won't give us any satisfying answers regarding why someone like Kenny was suffering. For me, that's a question that defies rational explanation, and I'd prefer not to have any "facts" dirty my grief over it. People are going to respond to what's happened in different ways, and if you disagree with what I'm saying here, then that's fine. But it's the way I feel about it right now.
The most appropriate response, to me, is to offer our condolences to Kenny's family and the people that were close to him, and to appreciate what he meant to us as Carolina fans. I started following the Gamecocks in 2005, so my time as a fan has been colored by his many accomplishments, from his first TD, a game-winner against Arkansas, to his assault on the school record books in 2008. Spurrier has often called him his all-time favorite receiver (and that includes his Florida days), and I recall that former Tennessee safety Eric Berry called him the most difficult receiver in the SEC to cover. Of course, Kenny meant a lot more to those that knew him. He was the kind of person who, from everything I've ever heard, had a positive influence on everyone around him.
It happened too soon, and he'll be missed. RIP, Kenny.