Utah Utes great Zane Beadles now has the most important job arguably of any player in professional football: protecting Peyton Manning's backside. As a member of the Denver Broncos -- where he's played for four years -- Beadles gets no notoriety, no acclaim like the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Yet he'll take all the anonymity for what he and his teammates were able to secure on Sunday, January 19 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, and that's help his Broncos lift an AFC title in a 26-16 win over the New England Patriots. Denver will now take on the Seattle Seahawks, a team the Broncos are acutely familiar with, in Super Bowl XLVIII.
"Like John (Elway) said, we couldn’t have done it without these fans. This team has been through a lot, we’ve overcome a number of obstacles this year, so it has been very gratifying to be a part of this team. We have kept our nose to the grindstone, we kept persevering, and it felt good to get this win today,” said Manning.
If not for Beadles, however, Manning might not be standing up at the podium receiving the congratulatory high-fives and hugs that come after winning such a pivotal game.
Beadles and his offensive lineman cohorts allowed zero sacks on Manning Sunday, a monumental feat considering this ferocious, tenacious Patriots defense shut down the high-powered Indianapolis Colts a week earlier to earn a spot in this AFC Championship Game.
But this game wasn't the first time that Beadles played well; consider that for the past four years he's only had eight false starts and been called for holding four times.
When you also consider that in those four years he's never had a false start nor been called for a holding penalty in six postseason games, you know you're looking at a special player.
But that doesn't even begin to talk about what he does in the Denver community where he lives, helping cancer patients navigate the oft-treacherous teenage years.
That he comes from Utah is just a bonus to those Utes fans who will now follow Beadles and his new team, the Denver Broncos into Super Bowl XLVIII in MetLife Stadium on Sunday, February 2.