The day my dad brought an FDNY ladder to our tailgate for the 2001 Colorado-Nebraska game

A story I've wanted to share for over 20 years.

The day my dad brought an FDNY ladder to our tailgate for the 2001 Colorado-Nebraska game

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The day my dad brought an FDNY ladder to our tailgate for the 2001 Colorado-Nebraska game

I want you to think about one of the greatest days you've ever had in your life. A day so special that you knew it would never happen again. No matter how much time passes, this is a day you can still picture vividly in your mind, and is something you'll cherish for as long as you live. That's what November 23, 2001 is for my family and I.

On that glorious day, we were at Folsom Field celebrating my mom's birthday and watching Colorado stomp Nebraska 62-36. It's arguably the greatest moment in CU history, and one of the most consequential events of the BCS era. The Buffs not only snapped a ten-year winless streak in the rivalry, but won the Big 12 North, and beat the Cornhuskers' ass so thoroughly that you can make a strong case they've never fully recovered from it 23 years later. All that on its own made for an unforgettable day, but also one that isn't so far-fetched that it could never happen again. So how did a soul-cleansing rivalry win go from merely, 'great day' to, 'this moment is never going to happen again'?

After 20-plus years of wanting people to hear this story, today is finally the day. This is the previously untold account of how my dad somehow snuck an FDNY ladder away from a scheduled appearance with the university, brought them to our tailgate party for a wild pregame, got himself on the field for the game, stole a game ball, and somehow didn't get arrested or have our season tickets revoked for any of it:

This is a story about what an immediate post-9/11 America was like, how heroes became celebrities, the difference in the way we consumed news and sports pre-social media, and just how much things have changed in 23 years. This is a story about one of the greatest days of our lives.

I sat down with my Dad over the holidays to record a new episode of The Two Stripes Podcast, recounting how everything that happened on November 23, 2001 came about, the memories we have from it, and why a day like that will never happen again in our lives. This episode has a visual element to it –pictures from that day, screenshots that tell the story of Colorado's 2001 season and the rivalry with Nebraska– so I also uploaded it to YouTube:

If you just want to listen to it like a regular podcast, here's the Spotify ink. Or, if you listen on Apple Podcasts.

Just as a note: You may want earmuffs for this episode if you've got virgin ears.

I feel like everyone needs to hear this story, so I've made today's post free to the public. Most of the content here is paywalled, though, so if you enjoyed this piece, I'm offering $14 off a yearly subscription (usually $50) at $36 if you subscribe at the link on the button below: