Taking the Field


Brent CannonI recently returned from my annual trek back to the University of Colorado for the spring football game. In the old days, former players would return to play against the varsity to end two weeks of spring practices. But with insurance costs, liability, and NFL teams hesitant to see star players hurt during what amounts to a well organized pick-up game – the spring game is now an inter-squad scrimmage for the varsity. But former players from a variety of eras return to CU to support the team – see old buddies – and make up lies about how good we use to be.

Colorado football boasts a long history and tradition of great players – from former Supreme Court justice Byron “Whizzer” White – to Heisman winner Rashaan Salaam – to futures stars Jordan Dizon and Terrence Wheatley (each selected in this past weekend’s NFL draft). And then there are the legions of average guys like me who are just honored to have worn the uniform and be a part of the program.

Saturday’s events kick off with a team breakfast. Former players and family get to meet the current team. There is a keynote speaker, and this year it was former Buff’s running back great Eric Bienemy (San Diego Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Philadelphia Eagles). I thought his talk was very inspirational and encouraged today’s young athletes to complete their education and do the right thing as representatives of the university. I spoke with him afterwards – and Laura took a cell phone shot of us.

Later – the former players were recognized during halftime festivities. They announced us by decade – so I was with the 1980’s guys. The field camera panned down the line of players – which was shown on the jumbotron in the stadium. Laura and my mom were in the stands – so I took the opportunity to say ‘hi’ to mom. I would have said something to Laura – but I figured it would be easier to read my lips if I just said “hi mom.”

After that they rushed us off the field because of the running of Ralphie. Ralphie is the live buffalo mascot that leads the team onto the field before the game and after half time. Ralphie 4 was getting a little too big – so they got Ralphie 5. But each buffalo has to learn the rout down the sideline – across the field – up the other sideline – and into her trailer. By the way – they use females because they are smaller and less aggressive than male buffaloes. The handlers decided the spring game would be a great chance to get Ralphie accustomed to crowds.

Right out of the gate, one handler fell and got run over. Then the entire harness fell off. That left one guy hanging on for dear life and trying to control Ralphie until the others could recover. Somebody had a camera and posted it on YouTube.

I am just behind and to the left of the corral, in the first row of the stands, in a black golf shirt. It may be tough to find me, but it’s fun to watch Ralphie run wild.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor


5 Responses to “Taking the Field”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    Ralphie is very spirited! I’m glad you were in the stands and not on the field. Sibling!

  2. David Thistle Says:

    Ralphie’s first run was AWESOME! Come to find out that the handler who got run over was an imposter from the Nebraska Cornhuskers … naturally Ralphie sniffed him out quickly, apparently the scent gave him away, and took care of business, trouncing him into the Folsom Field turf!! …. a preview of things to come for Nebraska and others this coming season

    Go Buffs

  3. Linda Leigh Says:

    Go Ralphie!!

  4. Kirk Schoonmaker Says:

    Go Ralphie and Go Buffs!! It would have been fun to see a You Tube Video of Brent taking on the current PLayers though!

  5. Lisa Says:

    That’s a great tradition – Go Buffs!

    I bet Ralphie gets drafted in the first round next year!

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