Jonathan Sagel visits with running back C.J. Anderson during the first junior reporter interview of the season. (Photos: Gabriel Christus)
I have always been an avid sports fan. Watching and playing sports are what fill my weekends and free time. So I was excited beyond belief when asked if I wanted to be a junior reporter for the Broncos before the first game of the season.
When I first arrived at noon on August 22nd, I entered into the main lobby of the training facility, and the large glass case of Broncos memorabilia stood right there to greet me. I was blown away by all the history that stood right before my eyes. There were pictures, signed footballs, and front and center were the three Lombardi trophies the Broncos had won. I thought this day could not get any better. I spent almost 30 minutes staring at the memorabilia and taking pictures before my mom was able to pull me away, as they were ready to start the tour. I was allowed to take one family member with me, so my grandma, who is also a big Broncos fan joined me on my incredible journey.
We first visited the running back, offensive, and defensive meeting rooms. I stood at the podium where players take interviews, while my grandmother took pictures. We toured the locker rooms, and saw many of the players' lockers. Although the players are almost a decade older then I am, some had lockers that resembled my room, a bit messy and disorganized. Some players had multiple pairs of shoes, and Von Miller carried a speaker the size of my head, which some of the personnel said they could hear loud and clear before home games.
Then to finish off the tour, we went to see the media rooms, and when we passed the cafeteria, I saw none other than John Elway himself. Although I only saw him through the window, his pose was more casual then I expected. He had his feet up on the table and his eyes on his phone (everything my mom does not let me do this during meals), but I guess if he can quarterback the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowls, AND manage a successful team, I guess I can cut him a little slack. After the tour was over, I sat down to make last minute edits to my questions and was presented with a giant gift bag, which included a media guide, a football, some Broncos clothing, and other little goodie items, which I was thrilled about. I was then taken outside to watch the end of practice. I enjoyed trying to name the players based on just the numbers on their jerseys. After practice ended, I was taken to a bench where C.J. Anderson came over to greet me for the interview. I was so pumped. C.J. has been a crucial part to this team, scoring the final touchdown of Super Bowl 50
C.J. is amazing, not just because of his talents on the football field, but even more so by the way he motivates and preserves through the challenges in his life. C.J. grew up in a rough neighborhood in California, with his uncle involved in drugs, and as he stated, "The guns you see in Call of Duty, I saw in my house and in my face." Although it was tough, C.J. said that he owes much of his success to his mother and grandmother. They helped guide and support him and they worked to keep him on a straight path. C.J. said he did not know where he would be today without them. C.J. attended Vallejo High School followed by UC Berkley. Although he was a stellar athlete, playing football, basketball, and baseball in high school, when draft day for the NFL came, his name was not called. But C.J. said that not being drafted motivated him, and that looking back on it, he would not have wanted it any other away. He quickly received calls from Buffalo, Green Bay and Denver, and he chose to play for the Broncos because the running back coach was an inspirational figure to him. When asked about how he got through his challenges, he said that he realized that "dreams don't die until you give up on them." He wears this quote on his wrist at all times because is a quote that motivates him to do his best and never give up. C.J. hopes that if there is one message that he could pass on to all kids, that it is to never give up. Not to let people who don't believe in you bring you down. He wants kids to believe in themselves and not quit; stay committed to your dreams.
Although C.J. works hard on the football field, he still enjoys having fun. He loves to read, listen to music, and bowl (he has bowled 7 perfect games and hopes to one day make the PBA cut). In the offseason this year, he took his mom and grandmother to Hawaii to thank them for supporting him and allowing him to accomplish all he could. In addition, C.J. is in the process of developing an academic center in his home town of Vallejo which would provide resources and opportunities for kids to be able to attend college and pursue their dreams. Basically it would provide kids with the resources that he did not have access to as a child. He is looking forward to being actively involved with this in the future.
It was an awesome experience being a junior reporter. I want to thank C.J. Anderson for his time and for being such an inspirational figure. I want to thank the Broncos staff that escorted me on the tour and showed me the behind the scenes at the training facility. And lastly, I want to thank Children's Hospital and the Denver Broncos organization for providing me with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.