FROM CELL PHONE CARRIER TO BALL CARRIER
When the Broncos signed free-agent running Tatum Bell on Tuesday, they not only gave him a second chance as a Bronco — they gave him a second shot at football.
Bell had been out of football since September when he was released by the Detroit Lions. After his release he moved back to Denver and tried to find work.
That work came in the form of manager of a cell phone store in a Denver-area mall.
Bell said going from a 1,000-yard rusher in the National Football League to retail manager was a humbling experience but not one that he was ashamed of.
“I was like, man, this is the real world – 9-5 everyday,” Bell said of his first “real” job. “I held my head up high going to work each day. I didn’t have a problem with it at all. That is what I had to do to feed my family and that is what I was doing.”
Whenever Broncos fans would walk by the store, Bell said he would stop them so they could talk about football and see if they might be interested in a new cell phone. Bell, who had to wear a collared shirt and tie to work each day, said he has a newfound reverence for people who work 9-5.
“I sold a couple (of phones),” Bell said. “It is actually is pretty hard.”
It was Bell’s phone that rang on Tuesday when the Broncos invited him in for a workout and another chance at football. And he looks to make the most of his opportunity.
“I feel like I am back,” he said. “I feel like I have the chance to go out and be productive. If that is splitting carries or being the guy, I think I can get the job done. I am back. I am looking forward to playing.”
After spending the last three months selling cell phones, Bell is quick to embrace any opportunity to play the game the loves.
“I am just trying to get on the field. “If that is special teams – if I have to play center – I just want to play.”
NATE JACKSON RAZZES TEAMMATES
The Broncos have had a lot of success utilizing their three tight end set of Nate Jackson, Daniel Graham and Tony Scheffler.
Jackson poked fun at long snapper and tight end Mike Leach still being without a catch despite the success of the Broncos tight end corps.
“It is a tragedy,” Jackson joked of Leach still not having a reception. “It is actually sad. I think we are all rallying for Mike Leach to get in there. Maybe put him in on goal line and throw him the ball. See what the kid can do.”
Leach wasn’t the only teammate receiving Jackson’s comedic wrath.
When asked by reporters how he thought rookie fullback Peyton Hillis would potentially fair at tailback against Atlanta, Jackson imitated Hillis’ southern drawl.
“Shoot,” Jackson said in a Hillis-like accent. “I am going to do whatever they ask me to do. I am a rookie so whatever they ask me to do I am going to do it. Yes sir. No sir. But mostly yes sir. I am ready to go.”
Not even new teammate, albeit former teammate of Jackson’s, Bell, could escape the jabs. Jackson was less than impressed with Bell’s selection of No. 40 as his new number.
“I ribbed him about his number, 40,” he said. “That is an atrocious number for a tailback to have. I think he only had the choice between that and 45, and neither of those are good.”
Michael Jordan once wore 45, a reporter reminded Jackson.
“Dang it,” Jackson responded. “He missed the boat.”
-Jake Grilley, DenverBroncos.com
Here are some photos from today’s practice.