Monday, September 1, 2008

The Final Cut is the Deepest

The Broncos, like every other team in the league, had to cut their final roster to 53 players over the weekend. They's already dropped a few guys, the Lorne Sams and the Samie Parkers, but we fans knew that this final cut would include at least one or two surprise names.

Well, not quite. There was only one: Cecil Sapp.

Let me totally honest about this. I'm a Colorado State fan. I had the privilege of closely following his career in green and gold, and it was massive. Cecil chewed and spit WAC competition. He gouged a good Memphis team in CSU's best bowl win ever. I was about 12 rows away from Cecil's famous dragging of the entire Buffaloes defense into the end zone during the '02 rivalry game at MacVesco the Terrible, and I do believe a little bit of my urine still stains that seat. I had been drinking Bloodys.

But even I knew the Diesel was always a bit over his head in the pro game. He wasn't quick enough, he was sub-par in the passing arena and never among the league's best blockers at his position. But we fans still bestowed the love upon him, in outsized proportion to his skills, like pre-teens at a JoBros show.

Maybe because Cecil was ours. He was beloved by the local--especially the one with State sympathies--more so than, say, Tom Rouen ever was, because he seemed like a humble, appreciative guy (not that I have any reason to believe Rouen wasn't, but he did marry a chick who did this.) So maybe that blinded us a bit to all of those dropped passes and one-yard plunges to nowhere. Maybe that prevented us from lumping him in as another example of Shanahan and his coaching staff moving a guy out of his natural position to no good effect.

But you know--fuck all that nonsense. I'm not here to tear down the memory of these last five crazy, bittersweet, what-they-hey-do-we-care years. I'm here to defend the legacy of Cecil Sapp, the best Colorado State Ram to ever play pro in the same state. (And yes, go right ahead and joke about *that* sample size. Jerkoffs.)

Cecil was a lot of things as a player. But he wasn't, as one commenter sneered in the comments of the Rocky's story on cut day, a "homer bust." He was a good enough blocker, a willing, if occasionally stone-handed, receiver and a great guy to take a surprise handoff right up the middle, '30s style. They ran that play over and over again a few years back against the Colts. Just killed them with it...or, well, they would have, but Cecil wasn't fast enough to score when he'd burst into the open field, but still.

They lost the game that day. Yet #37 proved that he could--given a complete lack of run defense, a bone-tired group of opposing players that all needed emergency oxygen and a gimmick play from olden days of yore--make a difference carrying the football.

And that's what we'll carry with us to our drool-cups. Thanks for the somewhat underwhelming memories, kid.

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