October 21, 2013 Updated: October 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm
It’s been lonely. For months, I’ve been one of the three of four Ronnie Hillman supporters in the state of Colorado.
After Hillman’s fumble Sunday night against the Colts, there might not be any Hillman supporters in our state.
It was a huge mistake. The Broncos had momentum and millions upon millions of TV watchers were feeling the same thing I was feeling:
Peyton Manning is going to find a way to win this one.
Then Hillman fumbled. Then the Broncos chances all went away.
Hillman seized my attention when he shredded Air Force’s defense in two dazzling performances. He ran with surprising power inside. He ran with speed and imagination and deception when he went outside.
I saw him as a solid NFL player. A little undersized, for sure, but on his way to a 10-season career anyway.
Trouble is, he can’t hang on to the ball. He fumbled repeatedly in exhibition games, sending him tumbling on the depth chart.
He’s teetering now. He can’t be trusted with the football.
A running back has a tough gig. Eli Manning, Peyton’s little brother, is on pace to throw 30 interceptions this season, but he remains the Giants starter. Quarterbacks can make dozens of crucial mistakes and still retain their reputation as daring, care-free gunslingers.
Running backs have no such margin for error. Fumble and you’re done. A running back carries his career, quite literally, in his hands each time he heads into a mass of tacklers.
Hillman fumbled on Sunday night. He might have fumbled his career, too.