It’s an experience Michael Harrison will never forget.
*editor’s note: A few weeks ago avid MHR reader (but new member) Fitnesstrainer888 tweeted to me that this was an experience he’d never forget. So I told him he should write about it. And he did. Here’s his very cool story about a player the Hall of Fame for once did NOT leave out:
It was Dec. 14, 1975, and as an 8-year-old boy, I was about to attend my very first Broncos game.
Cold? Extremely! But I was so excited it didn’t matter. I could have worn a t-shirt and not have been affected by the cold. Granted, at age 50 now, this is a bit of revisionist history; I’m sure I was freezing my tail off.
I vividly remember entering Mile High Stadium with the crowd. The walkway had an air of excitement that is still present today at Broncos games. It was my first taste, and I knew I would always want more. THEN I saw it for the first time. The field of Mile High Stadium. I had never laid eyes on what seemed like a green cathedral.
As we took our seats, I was completely enthralled with the players on the field. They were larger than life to my 8-year-old self. I first saw No. 77, Lyle Alzado. I was pulling on my grandmother’s arm and pointing out the players as I saw them. She had the patience of a saint with my incessant tugs and screeches.
Then I saw him. The one. The franchise. Floyd Little.
Broncos' HOF RB Floyd Little follows his escort around right end in preseason contest vs 49ers, 8/23/68. ( Denver Post) pic.twitter.com/3B4l7KVhro— Kevin Gallagher (@KevG163) August 23, 2017
I remember asking my grandmother if she thought he’d score a touchdown today. She was adamant that he would.
As the game progressed and the temperature dropped, my grandmother was the one tugging on me to see if I were ready to go.
NOPE! I wanted to see Floyd Little score a touchdown.
Then it happened.
The most miraculous play a young fan could ever see.
The Broncos were driving to the South end of Mile High Stadium. Floyd Little took a screen pass from Steve Ramsey. What seemed like sheer will and determination, I watched No. 44 avoid every single Philadelphia Eagle on the field as if he were playing a Pop Warner team.
“Floyd Little took a screen pass from Steve Ramsey. What seemed like sheer will and determination, I watched No. 44 avoid every single Philadelphia Eagle on the field as if he were playing a Pop Warner team.”
From that seat in the Northwest corner of Mile High Stadium I was up on my feet (as was every other single Broncos fan) watching No. 44 make his way down the right sideline and into the end zone. I couldn’t believe it; I saw my favorite player score! Not to mention, it was Little’s final home game of his career.
Years later as an adult in my late 20s, I was working customer service for a local company when I received a call from someone who wanted information on his account. My jaw dropped when I pulled up the account for Jon Keyworth. Suddenly, I was an 8-year-old Broncos fan again, reminiscing my first game at Mile High.
Let me say this – Mr. Keyworth was so incredibly kind and patient with me as he allowed me to share my memories of him, but also of my first game 20 years earlier. What was even better was that he seemed to want to relive some of those moments as well (then again, it could have just been me, so excited that I drowned out all consideration for the man who was on the other end of the phone!)
What I will never forget is Mr. Keyworth's definitive excitement as he asked me, “Do you want to hear something incredible about that touchdown?”
I couldn’t believe I was going to hear something so sacred as to what goes on in an NFL huddle. It turns out, then-coach John Ralston had sent in a play that Floyd adamantly insisted on changing. Basically he said – and I’m paraphrasing here – “get me the ball, I’m going to score.”
If you’ve read Floyd’s autobiography or even watched the video, you already know the story of him doing exactly this. But to hear it from a player’s perspective who was in the huddle was incredible.
“We all looked at each other and we KNEW Floyd was going to score,” Keyworth said to me.
It still gives me goosebumps to this day when I think about my chance encounter.
Mr. Keyworth, you made a young fan’s introduction to Broncomania come full circle. You are forever one of my favorites for taking the time with me that day to talk about our favorite team and one of our favorite players.
Now if I could only have Keith Bishop tell me stories from inside the huddle for “The Drive,” I will have lived a complete Broncos fan’s life!