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For me, it was easy to be a Buff fan.
Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, I grew up as many young boys dream of growing up. Football came first, weekends were 48 hours of college football and pro football. In 1965, my grandpa purchased what has become one of the highlights of my life every year: Denver Broncos season tickets. For the past 45 years, my family has owned season tickets and in the 26 years of my life, since the age of five, I have only missed a handful of games cheering on the Blue and Orange.
At an early age, I knew I wanted to be around football as much as possible.
I also had the great fortune of my father owning a large sporting goods wholesale company where he was one of the leading providers of Russell Athletic gear on the West Coast. Before Nike came into the picture, my pops supplied Russell Athletic gear to the University of Colorado and United States Air Force Academy. I spent many years of my childhood in the Colorado equipment room hanging around the athletic buildings in Boulder. I would get old Buff jerseys, old Air Force football shoes, enough shirts, hats and helmets to outfit the entire neighborhood for pickup football games whenever we wanted. Every time the Buffs went to a bowl game, I was getting a new jersey with a logo on the sleeve. Like I said, I was a fortunate one.
Throw in my love for football and growing up with a father who had some serious athletic connections its easy to see how I became a Colorado Buffaloes fan.
I attended every single Colorado Buffalo youth camp I could get into. I mean who wouldn't when Rick Nueheisel knew my name in quarterback drills at the age of 10 because of my father's business connections to the school. I can still remember wearing my black cleats, decked out in Buffs gear out on the astroturf of Folsom Field with Rick Nueheisel yelling, "Way to go, Bobby."
At the age of 10, that's pretty cool.
Those Buff youth camps were amazing. Those Buff teams were amazing. I remember watching Kordell Stewart throw the ball to Michael Westbrook while standing on the sideline in Folsom, Christian Fauria trying to teach us how to block on the Buff practice field, Chris Hudson running sprints and people around us saying he will be playing in the NFL one day.
Check that, those were some ridiculously amazing teams. I would come home from camp with the who's who of autographs: Kordell Stewart, Christian Fauria, Michael Westbrook, Ted Johnson, Matt Lepsis, Rae Carruth, Rashaan Salaam, Lamont Warren, Koy Detmer, Deon Figures, Chris Hudson, Leonard Renfro, Matt Russell, Ron Woolfork.
I have at least five footballs covered in autographs from top notch Buffs like the ones listed above.
Watching Colorado play in the Fiesta Bowl, Holiday Bowl, Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl and then get taught by them in the summer at camp as a kid was special.
I always wanted to attend the University of Colorado but I was lucky enough to have a sliver of athletic talent to play a little lower level college football. Like I said before, my goal was to stay around the game of football.
A few years out of college, with my playing days behind me and unfortunately too old to go to Buff football camps anymore, I was as far away from the game as I had been in my life.
In comes The Ralphie Report. This blog has become an avenue for me to stay close to the game, something I had the great fortune of growing up with and something I hope to be a part of in some fashion for the rest of my life. Whether it is breaking down games, watching films of the Buffs, writing post game reviews...I love it all.
Every year about this time, with pro football training camp about a three weeks away and college two-a-days starting in a couple months, I become extremely anxious and filled with optimism about the Buffs and Broncos. Sure, at times it hasn't been easy to be a Buff fan, especially recently, but I have some great memories of past Buffs and a hope that the future Buffs will bring us some of those great on the field performances we remember.