The football season is filled with statistics and highlights. But there's more to the game than that. Here's a look at some fun facts and interesting tidbits to tide you over until the NFL kicks off this fall.
1. The Broncos made free agent right tackle Ja’Wuan James the highest-paid right tackle in history with a four-year, $51 million deal with $32 million guaranteed. And he isn’t the most accomplished athlete in his family. His wife Rainey Gaffin, a University of Tennessee star like James, earned All-America honors twice in softball. She finished with 33 wins as a pitcher and a .334 average as a hitter. “I’d have to say she’s better,” James says.
2. Broncos second-round pick Dalton Risner grew up in the rural town of Wiggins, Colo. He loved the Broncos but wanted to be a cowboy. He grew up riding bulls. “That was the dream. But I got too big,” Risner says. He never lost his Western vibe. Risner donned size-18 cowboy boots to his introductory press conference. “These are my work boots,” he says.
3. Quarterback Joe Flacco believes he is still in his prime at age 34. He sees the Broncos offense as a fit for his skill set. It doesn’t hurt that he produced one of the most memorable victories of his career in Denver, knocking the Broncos out of the 2012 playoffs. “Sorry about that,” Flacco says to the fans. Flacco’s 10 postseason victories rank third among active quarterbacks behind Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger.
4. When the Broncos signed defensive back Kareem Jackson, he shared an interesting connection to Denver. Last season, Jackson, then with the Houston Texans, provided running back Phillip Lindsay with his welcome-to-the-NFL moment, crushing him with a violent hit. “I met him when I got here. We are good. It’s all respect,” Jackson says.
5. Broncos coach Vic Fangio loves baseball. And he represents a good luck charm for the cities where he coached. While Fangio served as the 49ers defensive coordinator, the San Francisco Giants won three World Series. Then, during his time with the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Cubs won their first title in 108 years, besting Cleveland. So, Fangio, a good friend of Cubs manager Joe Maddon, acknowledges that the Colorado Rockies should be smiling. “I’d be happy if I were them [Rockies],” Fangio says. “The Cubs broke a jinx when I got to town. The Giants in San Francisco never won anything and then they won three out of the five years I was there. Things might be looking up for the Rockies.”