A TRIBUTE TO SALAAM
Notes, flowers adorn park bench, trophy
Ime Salazar on Wednesday takes a photograph of the Heisman Trophy that legendary Buffaloes running back Rashaan Salaam won in 1994. The University of Colorado Football Legacy Hall was opened to the public Wednesday to give people an opportunity to pay their respects to the late player, whose body was found Monday in a park in Boulder.
boulder» On a frozen bench in the middle of snow-blanketed Eben G. Fine Park, a solitary bouquet of flowers and a handwritten note paid tribute Wednesday to a legend lost far too soon.
“Rest in Peace Rashaan!” the note read. “You’ll always be a hero of mine brother. CU Buff for life. No matter what.”
It was here Rashaan Salaam, the 1994 Heisman Trophy winner and Colorado legend, is suspected to have ended his own life Monday, his body discovered that bitterly cold evening by a passer-by who was visiting the park. Salaam was 42.
Behind the bench on which the flowers rested, water rushed under partially frozen segments of Boulder Creek as bundled-up runners peppered the path nearby. It was otherwise quiet in the place where Salaam’s life ended.
Two miles down Arapahoe Road, in a hallway adjacent to Folsom Field, a few fans walked into Legacy Hall to pay their respects. The centerpiece of this corridor is the Heisman Trophy that Salaam was awarded 22 years ago after rushing for 2,055 yards as a junior.
Flowers adorned the foot of the trophy, while a stuffed teddy bear with a CU emblem rested on the other side. Note cards resting on a table gave fans a chance to share a memory or a message about the iconic running back.
One fan who walked by the shrine was Jay MacIntyre, the current CU wide receiver and son of coach Mike MacIntyre.
“He left a legacy on this place,” Jay MacIntyre said. “He showed this is a place that you can be great. He wore a Colorado jersey and won the Heisman, and he’s the only one to do it. He goes down as a legend, as one of the greatest to ever do it, and we walk by this every day.”
CU players, who return to practice Friday in preparation for their Dec. 29 appearance in the Alamo Bowl, pass Salaam’s Heisman each day on their way to the weight room inside the glistening Champions Center.
They also pass by a video board that Wednesday was looping highlights of Salaam’s recordbreaking season in 1994 that included 24 touchdowns and a gaudy average of 6.9 yards per carry.
It also included a three-touchdown performance in a Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame that propelled 11-1 CU to a No. 3 national ranking to end the season.
Reminders of those accomplishments were everywhere Wednesday, and many are sure to be shared during a funeral ceremony in Boulder, which Salaam’s mother, Khalanda, told 9NEWS will take place Friday or Saturday.
Many questions remain, though, about what led up to Salaam’s tragic death. Rick Neuheisel, who was the Buffs offensive coordinator during Salaam’s Heisman season in 1994, said he was told by one of the running back’s former teammates that Salaam had dealt with depression.
“I spoke to TJ Cunningham, who was a teammate of his, and he said, ‘You know what? There were some bouts with depression,’ ” Neuheisel said Wednesday during an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show.” “In situations like this, I think we all wish we had reached out and known more.”