ENGLEWOOD — Charlie is 16, one brash Special Olympian, and Tuesday night he out-swagged Swag.
I wish you all could’ve seen it: soon as he grabbed a handoff from Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman, Charlie barreled toward the end zone. Score, Charlie! they shouted. Charlie scored, all right. Then he danced! Spinning toward Chad “Swag” Kelly, Charlie hit the quarterback with finger pistols. Oh, and he wasn't done yet. Charlie followed with his version of The Robot.
You got that in your bag of tricks, Swag?
“Might have to incorporate that move,” Kelly said with a belly laugh.
Cheering, laughing, high-fiving. That was the perfectly executed gameplan when a dozen or so Broncos players joined a bunch of Denver-area law enforcement officers in hosting 125 Special Olympic athletes inside the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse.
“It’s one of my favorite days,” said Mindy Watrous, CEO of Special Olympics Colorado, “because they get so excited.”
The Broncos or the Special Olympians?
"I don't really have a favorite Broncos player," said Kaitlyn, another Special Olympian. "They're all just the best."
This is an NFL franchise at its best. Brandon McManus, showing a tiny Olympian how to kick. She stood there, speechless, until another tiny kid tried to tackle the kicker. Heuerman, lifting another Olympian over the goal line. The kid's smile felt like Christmas. Brendan Langley, the young cornerback, tossing a ball that bounced off the nose of Miles, the mascot.
Laughs. High-fives. More dancing.
“Do you know Case Keenum?” asked Travis, who’s 27 and aspires to medal at the Special Olympics.
The new guy?
“Yeah, he’s my favorite player. I want to learn some new skills. I’m a quarterback, too.”
It doesn’t get better than Special Olympians.
Sports don’t get better than pro athletes playing with Special Olympians.
“What was that touchdown dance?” said long-snapper Casey Kreiter, holding his 10-month-old boy, Landen.
“That’s my choo-choo dance!” the Olympian said.
See what I mean?
I write often about the Broncos’ work in the community, because the Broncos’ work in the community is the greatest side of a great franchise. Last year Broncos players committed 980 hours to community service. The staff had 625 more. They adopted 75 families at Christmas. They collected school supplies for 62,000 students. They granted five Make-A-Wish wishes. They provided 266,000 meals for Food Bank of the Rockies. Chris Harris Jr. scored 350 coats in his “Coats for a Cause.” Von Miller raised over $1 million for Von’s Vision. The Broncos' volunteer work is endless, and it should be.
Oh, and this: Colorado law enforcement last year raised over $1 million for Special Olympics, according to Aurora police Sgt. Cassidee Carlson. Awesome.
“Seeing (the kids) smile puts a huge smile on my face,” said Broncos linebacker Joe Jones, an early candidate for community MVP.
Chad Kelly spent his own birthday visiting a local children’s hospital.
“He’s been unbelievable with these kids,” said Liz Mannis, senior manager of community development.
Back to Charlie. This kid, man. Gold medalist.
“Do you want to see my ‘Robot'?” Charlie asked Chad Kelly.
“This is what it’s all about,” Chad said.
Now that’s swag.