For many Colorado football fans, the name G-Man conjures up memories of 25 seasons ago, when local radio sportscaster Rich Goins, inspired by another rough start for the Denver Broncos, promised to live on a billboard until the team won a game and broke its losing streak. The Fox reporter spent 33 days on that billboard forty feet above West Colfax Avenue, watching several more losing games, before the Broncos finally pulled it out.
Before tonight's Denver Broncos game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Rick Reilly will be speaking with the G-Man about those days on the pre-game show ESPN Monday Night Countdown. Goins had always wanted to be on a Reilly segment, and even gave Reilly a signed picture saying as much.
The billboard stunt not only made Goins a local hero, it brought him national attention. Entertainment Tonight filmed him; the Today Show featured him. And several weeks into the stunt, Goins received a call that he fully expected to be a prank. The person on the other end told him that Bob Costas wanted to speak with him, live on the air. "So I hung up," Goins recalls. "The guy called back and said, 'Hey, don't hang up. This is the NBC affiliate here in Denver, we're sending a camera crew up because Bob Costas wants to have you on NFL Live.'"
Goins had to miss celebrating Thanksgiving with his family in Detroit because of his billboard obligation. But it wasn't until they saw him live on ESPN, speaking with Costas, that his parents really knew why he wasn't cutting up the turkey with them. "All of a sudden, there I am on TV with Bob Costas. My mom said my dad almost spit his turkey out," he explains.
"Costas told me that if the Broncos didn't win for the rest of the year that I would have been able to come down after the Super Bowl," Goins says. "I think he really enjoyed making fun of me." Thankfully, nine days before Christmas, the Broncos pulled out a win against the Chargers, and Goins descended from his billboard.
But not before he'd suffered through several health problems. Early on, Goins developed bronchitis and pneumonia. Eventually a small, doghouse-like shed was brought up to give him some shelter. "It was actually nicer than where I lived at the time," Goins jokes.
While living on the billboard, he continued to do his morning sportscasts and go about the rest of his life. The only exception? Bathroom breaks, which were taken in a nearby RV. Fifteen minutes a day were set aside for that most human of activities. Other than that, Goins was always on the billboard.
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His days living on that billboard opened Goins's eyes to a problem that many people don't think about: the dangers of living on the streets. So KRFX The Fox found a way to help the homeless. "Over the course of that month, the radio station and I sold T-shirts that had my picture on it," he says. The picture, done by one of the station's artists, was a caricature of Goins on the billboard. The money made from selling the shirts, around $4,000, was donated to a local rescue mission.
Seven years later, in 1997, Goins predicted the Broncos would win the Super Bowl -- and lived in a shed near the stadium for forty days until his prediction came true. "I hope the Broncos win the Super Bowl this year," he confides. "Otherwise, people are going to probably ask me to go do it next year."
Goins was laid off by the Fox after almost twenty years; he's currently working for 99.5 The Mountain, where he has an afternoon radio show on Mondays and Fridays. If he ever found the right cause, he says he might be willing to pull another stunt. As for tonight's game, "I think the Broncos are going to end up winning by a field goal," he predicts. "It's going to be a close game, but I think they're going to pull it out."
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