This is graduation season around the country, with high school and college students proudly getting diplomas and degrees from high schools, colleges and universities.
One of those who might otherwise be overlooked is very accustomed to being the center of attention, that being former Denver Broncos safety and cornerback Tyrone Braxton.
Tyrone was a star player for the Broncos and has two Super Bowl championship rings from his days with the team, but this weekend he fulfills a promise he made to his mother as a freshman at North Dakota State University, that being to eventually get his college degree. Tyrone graduates this weekend.
He is in the process of starting a new job working with Denver area youth so he cannot walk across the stage in person, but that does not diminish the pride that Tyrone should have in his accomplishment — it is a big deal, and a classy thing to do.
But Tyrone always handled himself well here. He was a terrific player in Denver’s defensive backfield from 1987-93, and after a brief hiatus away from the Mile High City again from 1995-99. That’s 12 years with the Broncos and 13 pro seasons overall, a very impressive career for a player who was the 334th overall selection of the 1987 draft, the 12th and final choice by the Broncos.
Tyrone was listed as 5-11, 185 and had average speed. Many would say he was too short, too light and too slow—until the game began.
Tyrone Braxton was all player, all the time.
He had 34 interceptions for the Broncos (fourth best in team history), including nine in 1996 (tied for third best team single season total ever), and his career return yardage of 614 is still fourth best all-time.
But it is all about winning, and here is the biggest stat of all about Tyrone Braxton.
While Braxton was playing at North Dakota State the Bison won three national championships.
During his years with the Broncos Denver won two world championships, two other AFC championships, and the Broncos lost an AFC title game at Buffalo in 1991.
So he played for teams that played for championships eight times, winning seven, in his combined college and pro career.
Maybe Tyrone was not big, but those stats sure sound big to me.
And he was a stand-up guy for my public relations department for every day of his career. He always answered the press questions, in good times and in bad — he praised his teammates and took the blame if it happened to fall on his shoulders.
He was a real example for the younger guys.
Tyrone Braxton stood tall in that locker room, and I offer him deepest congratulations on his latest accomplishment of earning his college degree.