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Mile High Morning: Colorado native Ben Garland reflects on tenure with Air Force, Broncos


The Lead

KOA's Susie Wargin has caught up with a number of former Broncos players on her "Cut Traded Fired Retired Podcast," and one of her recent guests has deep Colorado roots.

Ben Garland, who played eight games for the Broncos in 2014 and also spent time on Denver's practice squad, grew up in Grand Junction before he attended the Air Force Academy.

"I had a couple other full rides and some other places that I was looking into, but from my standpoint, the Academy was it since Day 1," Garland told Wargin. "I told my grandfather since I was 5 that was the place for me. Everything I did in middle school, high school was all in an attempt to get into the Academy.

"… I knew the harder path would forge me into the man I wanted to be."

While the standout defensive lineman drew interest from NFL teams during the draft process, his two-year service requirement led to him going undrafted.

"I knew what I signed up for, and I was proud to serve my country," Garland said.

The Broncos, though, signed Garland as an undrafted free agent and allowed him to participate when possible.

Garland, whose stature was too big for him to become a pilot, served as a public affairs officer as his primary job — and attended Broncos training camp and practices during his days on leave.

The current major in the Colorado National Guard would return to football after his service, and he was part of the Broncos' practice squad during Super Bowl XLVIII. Despite the loss, Garland spoke highly of what the experience meant to him as a Colorado native.

"That was a surreal moment," Garland said. "You're talking about a kid born and raised in Colorado, playing for the team of his dreams, going to a Super Bowl. We grew up and we didn't have a lot of money, so just the concept of being able to ever attend a game seemed so out of reach financially. Not only are you attending, but you're playing. I'm bringing my mom along, my family. They're getting to watch the game with me. [It was an] absolutely incredible experience."

For more on Garland's story, click here to listen to the "Cut Traded Fired Retired Podcast."

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