During ESPN's pre-game build-up to last night's error-filled Broncos loss to the Falcons, past Westword profile subject Rick Reilly hosted a segment featuring Denver mayor Michael Hancock talking in greater detail than he has since being elected (and maybe ever) about what's arguably his greatest accomplishment:
Serving as Huddles, the Broncos' mascot.
Irritatingly, the video of this segment isn't embeddable. So we've assembled screen captures to tell the story.
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The bit opens with Reilly on the 16th Street Mall, where he corrals passersby and asks if they recognize Huddles, a long-abandoned mascot far less tough and virile than the current model, Miles. No one does, beyond figuring out that he boosted the Broncos. Reilly's also got a photo of Hancock dating back to his old Denver City Council days. When he reveals that the pics of the mayor and the mascot feature the same person, the folks with whom he's chatting are shocked, and no wonder: While Hancock hasn't hidden his Huddles past, neither does he make a big deal of it...as he absolutely should! Then comes the background. Hancock was part of a Broncos youth group in 1986, when he was seventeen.... ...and he was subsequently cajoled into portraying Huddles. As he told Reilly during a sit-down in the mayor's office, the job's pay ($25 a pop) was more attractive than the potential dangers (Hancock says Huddles had been smacked with snowballs and set on fire). Next comes the schmaltzy interlude -- as much a part of Reilly's style as humor. He notes that Hancock was one of ten children living in what most of us would describe as poverty. Cut to Charlene Hancock, Michael's mom, who notes that they were homeless for a time. After that, the focus is back on humor, with Reilly asking those folks on the 16th Street Mall which is the more impressive gig, mayor or mascot. Yep, you guessed it: Huddles wins in a landslide. The package concludes with Reilly putting Hancock on the spot in regard to his preference for either Tim Tebow or Peyton Manning. The mayor replies that at least the Broncos have a chance to score on their first possession now -- which didn't happen last night, but we know what he means. Live, however, Reilly shared one last zinger during the toss to ESPN anchor Chris Berman. He recounted asking John Elway if he remembered meeting Hancock back during his Huddles days, and he admitted that he didn't. Reilly wasn't surprised by that, because after all, he said, Elway's a Republican.
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More from our Sports archive: "Photos: Broncos rally turns Bannock Street into 'Broncos Boulevard.'"