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Sacco Sez: Let the celebration begin

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What is there in American society that existed before the airplane and car, certainly before the internet and laptop?

It was there before widespread use of the telephone and the indoor toilet, and way before radio, television and the mass watching of motion pictures.

The answer is football, and this year the National Football League has varied celebrations planned to honor the its one hundredth year of play.

But before pay for play began, there was college football, and that sport coincidentally celebrates its 150th season this year.

The National Football Foundation, of which I am a member, and the College Football Hall of Fame will also have a lot of activities taking place to pay homage to the sport and its legacy of creating educational opportunities that might have not been there otherwise.

NFF Chairman Archie Manning has said, "More than 5.33 million people have played college football since the first game between Princeton and Rutgers on November 6, 1869. Included in that number are many of our nation's greatest leaders who often cite their gridiron experiences as the key to their success."

Of course, the sport also is enjoyed annually by tens of millions of fans, and it has grown significantly over the years with new teams constantly added and more than 80,000 student-athletes slated to play for college programs this fall.

NFF President Steve Hatchell, whom I have known since he was a young sports information assistant to the University of Colorado in the early 1970s, notes that "we want to take a leadership role in celebrating the 150th anniversary."

Hatchell added that "it is a great opportunity for us to reflect on all the amazing possibilities college football creates for the young people and the countless regions across the country who are enriched by having programs in their communities."

In conjunction with the anniversary date of that first game, the New York Yankees and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl plan to host Princeton University and Dartmouth College on Saturday, Nov. 9.

There is a litany of on- and off-field activities too long to be listed here, but fans who follow college football (and the two most popular sports listed on every poll of the last 50 years are NFL football and college football) will see ongoing tributes to the game's 150th anniversary celebration.

Of course, the college season starts just before the NFL season, but a tremendous ongoing celebration is planned on our pro side as well.

The Denver Broncos have already kicked things off by naming our Top 100 Team, as selected by our great fans, myself and Senior Digital Reporter Andrew Mason.

It is the 60th year of both American Football League and Denver Broncos history as well, so celebrations will abound throughout the sport.    

In Colorado — so aptly named as the "Centennial State" — teams representing our college and universities have been playing for well over 100 years.

The University of Colorado began play in 1890, and Colorado State University football dates back to 1893, when the school was known as Colorado Agricultural University.

The University of Denver began play in 1885 and played its last season in 1960, but DU's Hilltop Stadium was used by the Denver Broncos for several games in the early 1960s, primarily due to baseball at what was then Bears Stadium, the Broncos' first home.

The Colorado School of Mines built their own stadium for the first time in 1893, and the Orediggers have amassed 460 all-time wins in football, officially starting in 1888.

When one considers that Colorado was still the wild, wide-open west in the 1890s, it is remarkable to think that despite intemperate winter weather conditions and sometimes treacherous mountain travel, football teams in our state had rivalries that are now well over a century old.

In fact, one of the nation's great college rivalries is the "Border War," a game played annually between the University of Wyoming and Colorado State (then Colorado Agricultural and later Colorado A&M).

In 1899, that game ended in controversy, with each side claiming victory.

In fact, the annual football media guides produced by the two schools each list themselves as the winner. 

So 2019 is going to be a great year for the celebration of football, the 150th by our great colleges and universities and the 100th by the ultra popular National Football League.

The ultimate popularity of the game was unimaginable to college coaches and players in the 1890s and when the NFL fathers started the game at the Ralph Hays car dealership in Canton, Ohio, but this is what we all watch and enjoy today.

We are in our last weekend before the Broncos begin training camp, but when it does, the celebration will commence in full force.

Are you ready for some football?

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