When I was about 4 years of age, in 1986, I met a man whom I was told was my cousin. Turns out, he was my dad's 1st cousin, making him my second. I was walked into the living room with my dad's hand on my shoulder, yet I was still hesitant.
We approached this mammoth sized man, who was sitting on our families couch like Abe Lincoln's statue at his tomb, and I remember a nervous apprehension of a feeling sweeping over me. This man had tree trunks as legs, and was twice the size of my father, whom I thought was huge. My dad looking back, was pretty fit, although he was only about 5'9", my dad appeared to me to be large and strong at the age of 4, however he was dwarf in size compared to this man sitting before me.
He said, "hello" and asked me how I was. I didn't speak a word.
He asked me what my favorite team was, and I chimed up "The St. Louis Cardinals", which was my hometown baseball team. At the time, I didn't understand football, nor cared to. Ozzie Smith was the man!
My dad later told me that my cousin, played for the Denver Broncos as a Line Backer, us kids sent him letters and asking for his autograph that same week. He acknowledged, sent back his picture, which everyone of us has in a frame, with his autograph, Rick Dennison #55. It is amazing what kind of impression, that moment can leave on a small child throughout the rest of his life!
I have not sense talked to Rick. I wish I could, as I'd like to get to know him more, however being a professional athlete only gives you limited time for extended family, I am sure, however I have idolized him since that day.
I once heard someone say that "Blood is thicker than water". Or in other words, family is thicker than friends. This is the day that my blood started to turn orange and blue, and will be for always. Rick had spent most of his career with our beloved Broncos, and was highly regarded as both a player and a coach. I did not realize how much my blood had turned orange and blue until I was finally in High School. It is thicker than water. No player or other team will ever become more to me, than the Broncos have.
Rick spent 13 years with the club as a player, dealing painful blows and orchestrating the strategy planned for every game. A smart leader on the defensive side of the ball who was not extremely well known by the common fan, however the league viewed Rick differently. He retired as a player in the early 90's, as his wife became ill with cancer. At the time, they had 2 sons.
Rick and his family moved to Florida, where his wife's parents lived. His wife sadly passed away, leaving him with his children.
Rick moved back to Denver shortly after once he received a coaching position with the Broncos. He excelled in his Special Teams position and helped coach them into the Super Bowl's. Rick never did experience the Super Bowl victories as a player, although he did experience the loss of them. He only felt that victory as a coach. Rick became the offensive coordinator as well as the offensive line coached, where he had coached some of the best players in the game and the history of the Broncos. That alone, is a tribute to itself! A student of the game is only as good as the one teaching him the game. Rick as a coach, did a phenomenal job!
It was a very sad day for me to see him go to the Texans (although I like to watch them as well as my high school QB plays as a TE down there, Owen Daniels, thats a whole nother story, however!).For all of the years of dedication and service to the club, the hardships he faced, and the personal life achievements that he had made, I would like to thank him on behalf of his family, and all of the Broncos fans!