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THE UNEXPECTED HERO
GARY SMITH
July 26, 2010
FORMER BRONCOS BACK FLOYD LITTLE AND ARDENT FAN TOM MACKIE EACH HELPED THE OTHER FULFILL HIS LIFELONG DREAM
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July 26, 2010

The Unexpected Hero

FORMER BRONCOS BACK FLOYD LITTLE AND ARDENT FAN TOM MACKIE EACH HELPED THE OTHER FULFILL HIS LIFELONG DREAM

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He has no way of knowing if Floyd would've gotten into the Hall of Fame without him. No way of knowing if a senior committee that had been tossing Floyd's name around for years would've finally nominated him regardless, or if the flurry of late phone calls to the 44 voters by broadcaster Jim Gray—who grew up in Denver idolizing Floyd—did the trick, or if Jeff Legwold, the Rocky Mountain News writer who melted the 44 voters with his five-star Floyd presentation, would've been just fine without all those reasons Tom supplied to help quell every doubt, or if the voters finally picked Floyd, as Broncos p.r. man Jim Saccomano exclaimed when the announcement was made, just to get Tom Mackie off their backs.

All Tom knows is what Floyd told the world twice on that stage in Fort Lauderdale—that he never would've gotten in without Tom—and what Floyd keeps telling anyone who'll listen: "He took me out of the depths of hell. There's no way in my wildest dreams that I'd have gotten in without him. I was his hero. He became mine."

Tom opens one envelope: Tom, because of you I am living a dream.

He opens the other: I love you man! Thank you!

He smiles and walks toward the house to show Emily. He'll be back at the mailbox tomorrow, of course, the boy who once waited four years for his hero to write back. It'll take weeks to get all 44 thank-you notes from Floyd Little.

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