Gear up for gameday: Northern Colorado
LARAMIE -- Saturday will mark the 21st anniversary of the grand opening of what was then known as Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium.
Denver's new state-of-the-art football venue took the world's stage when the Broncos hosted the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. Fireworks lit up the sky as Brian Griese tossed three touchdowns and Terrell Davis rushed for 101 yards in the 31-20 victory.
It's a night I will never forget. Not just because of the picture-perfect scene taking place on the television in front of me, but because it was my 17th birthday.
There was another reason, too.
Midway through the third quarter, with the game tied at 14-14, Denver wide receiver Ed McCaffrey reeled in a one-handed pass and tucked it before absorbing a blow from Shaun Williams. McCaffrey laid motionless on his left side after the hit from New York's strong safety.
It took one slow-motion replay to show why.
Williams' right leg hit McCaffrey on the left shin, instantly snapping his leg. Before the final whistle that night, he was in a Denver area hospital preparing for season-ending surgery.
The injury put a serious damper on an otherwise perfect celebration.
Little did we know what was coming just a few hours later.
I remember waking up the following morning, my first thought drifting to that devastating hit and the gruesome nature of it. Not only was one of the Broncos' top weapons going to miss the entire 2001 campaign, what would that mean for the team's chances of getting back into the postseason?
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That's when the news channel in the background began flashing images of smoke pouring out of one of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. Early indications claimed it was an accident. As I looked on, a second commercial airplane made its way into the frame.
You know what unfortunately transpired next.
I always utilize this spot each week to drop some sort of anecdote. Basically, it's the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the Cowboys' upcoming opponent.
Saturday, McCaffrey will lead his Northern Colorado Bears into War Memorial Stadium for a 2 p.m. meeting with Wyoming.
I think about that catch and how it was indicative of his entire career. He got blasted. He hung on. Seeing Eddie Mac not getting up was the only thing that deviated from the norm.
I wondered what was going through his mind when he laid in a hospital bed watching our world change forever as planes went down in New York, Washington DC and in Pennsylvania.
Then I found this story, McCaffrey felt helpless on 9/11, courtesy of CBS Colorado.
"So I turn on the television and Bryant Gumble is talking and there's smoke coming out of the towers and I'm thinking it must be a movie. I have a morphine drip in my arm, so I'm drugged up to kill the pain, and as he's talking I see a second plane fly into the tower and I think everybody in the world instantly knew this is real, this is not an accident."
McCaffrey told CBS Colorado all he wanted to do is be at home with his family.
"I'm alone in a hospital bed, can't do anything, I have a broken leg, completely helpless. I called my family in Pennsylvania and New York; phone lines were going down. It honestly felt like the end of the world."
McCaffrey said he thinks about Sept. 11 all the time.
"Personally and, as a nation, hopefully it was the most tragic event we'll have to live through."
Terrorism would dominate the headlines for decades. Football, all of a sudden, seemed so insignificant for a teenager who lived and breathed it.
Here is all you need to know -- and the links -- for Saturday's tilt in Laramie:
WHO: Northern Colorado (0-1) at Wyoming (1-1)
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 10 at 2 p.m. MST
WEATHER: High of 57, low of 34, cloudy, A.M. showers, wind at 12 mph
WHERE: War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, Wyo. (29,181 capacity)
TV: Mountain West Network (streaming)
RADIO: Cowboy Sports Network
TICKETS: Wyoming Ticket office
BOX SCORE: ESPN
ROSTERS: Wyoming / UNC
BETMGM ODDS: N/A
HISTORY: Wyoming leads 18-5-3 (UW has won eight straight in the series)
HEAD COACHES: Craig Bohl / Ed McCaffrey
Just The Facts: Size Doesn't Matter For Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium
- Just The Facts: Size Doesn't Matter For Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium