Tonight I attended an interesting Bronco Quarterback Club meeting featuring two well known #87's - Ed McCaffery of the past and current rookie Eric Decker. Many have compared Decker to McCaffrey in playing style - tonight was the first time the two had met in person. Host David Treadwell, the retired Bronco kicker, made the observation that Decker was four years old when McCaffrey was drafted!
McCaffrey was first to give his impressions of the current Broncos and answer questions from the crowd. Ed said that even though the season is not going well, he looks for players with good "attitude and effort". He said Decker was one player that displayed those traits. Ed said he wants to see Tebow play like the rest of the fans, and hopes Tim gets some game action in the season's remaining 3 games.
McCaffrey talked about his family life. He has two sons playing for Valor Christian High School and he says he gets more nervous watching them in action than when he was an active player. He never pushed his sons into football, "they wanted to play". He also has two elementary schools sons who also play the game.
McCaffrey took some questions about his playing days. One person said the two iconic plays of Super Bowl 32 was Elway's Helicopter run and Ed's block on the game's decisive drive in the 4th quarter. Ed joked "I was wide open on the helicopter play - I don't know why John ran". He declined to reveal what he said to the Green Bay player after his devastating block.
Someone asked why Ed wore small pads in his playing days. McCaffrey said when he was with the 49'ers he thought he needed to be faster to make the team, and that shedding 10 pounds of pads would help. He did make the team and kept wearing those pads, even when the bronco equipment manager tried to replace them after Super Bowl 32.
Ed said when he was with the 49'ers offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan barely said a word to him, but he must have made an impression since later Shanahan wanted Ed on the Broncos.
Ed was asked about his broken leg on Sept 10, 2001 - a Monday night game against the Giants. Ed said he was having a great game that night, he had scored a touchdown and had 94 yards in receiving when the injury happened. He said that was an example of how fast things can change in the NFL. He was beating his former team on the national stage and then suddenly his season was over. He said he never really recovered from that injury. Even though he came back for the opener the next year his leg didn't feel right, his stride was off, and he suffered other injuries (like a strained quad) trying to compensate for the injury.
Eric Decker then addressed the crowd. Eric was thrilled to meet Eddie Mac. He said he picked #87 as his number for three reasons: 1. he was born in 1987 2. He was the 87th player selected in the draft and 3. he patterned his game after #87 Ed McCaffrey ("that's the way I want to play"). Though he was successful playing baseball (a center fielder), he said football was always his first love so that's why he chose the NFL.
Decker suffered a serious injury in his senior year at Minnesota. He wondered if his football career was over but players like ex-Bronco Brandon Stokely (who had suffered a similar injury) encouraged him. Decker said he is still rehabing from the injury and "it still hurts".
Decker said he had never returned a kickoff until the Arizona game. His focus on kickoffs is #1 catch the ball and #2 run fast. He compares it to backyard football, and credits the blockers in front of him with his two good returns in yesterday's game.
Decker was asked how the three bronco quarterbacks compare in throwing a catchable ball. He said Orton and Quinn have better touch and throw a ball easier to catch. Tebow throws hard and being a lefty his ball has a reverse spin. Decker said he saw no problems with Tebow's throwing motion - baseball pitchers have different motions and it is no different for quarterbacks. He caught alot of balls from Tebow in practice. He gets requests from family and friends for Tebow autographs.
Decker said the biggest difference between the college and pro game was the amount of time he spends in the film room with the Broncos. He spends about 4 hours watching film each week in addition to practice. He said the coaches give film of each defensive back he will go against in the coming week for study. Decker also keeps a DVD showing McCaffrey's practice workouts - he doesn't study Ed's previous games so much as his practice routine.
The players spent alot of time taking pictures with fans and signing autographs. David Treadwell asked a trivia question "who are the two #87's in the Bronco Ring of Fame" My hand shot up and I gave the answer (Rich Jackson and Lionel Taylor) - I won a free pie for that. I didn't say I was old enough to have watched all the #87's play in person!
It was a fun evening of Bronco football, current and past, and a nice break from the disappointing season so far. Decker was the first active player to appear at the quarterback club in several years, and he said he's going to work to get other players to make appearances in the future.