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By HAL MORRIS
FRANKFORT — Jacob Tamme knows his status as an NFL player can have an impact on people, especially young people.
Which is why the former Boyle County and Kentucky football star is always glad to get a chance to speak at various functions to talk about his faith and how it impacts his life.
And Tamme got a huge chance to talk about his faith Thursday when the Denver Broncos tight end was the keynote speaker at the annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast a sold out Frankfort Convention Center.
“I try to get around young kids as much as I can because I know when I was young the impact of people were in athletics, you could be a high school player or a college player, meant to be,” Tamme said. “I think it’s an opportunity to give back for me, getting around young folks and things like today. I don’t do a lot of these, but I definitely appreciate the opportunity.”
A long line gathered after the breakfast with people of all ages wanting a picture or autograph and thanking Tamme for spreading his message. Tamme is well aware being an NFL player gives him a bigger platform.
“Just a high school football player coming to talk to my middle school classroom was a huge deal to me. I was always impacted by that sort of thing, so no question that sports gives us a great platform and there’s a lot of guys using sports for good in a lot of different ways. So I try to use this platform as much as I can. This jersey that you wear gives you an ability to make an impact you might not have if you didn’t have that jersey. That’s just how it is, it’s a real thing, good or bad, so you just try to make the most of it.”
The theme of the breakfast was ‘Why Pray?’ and Tamme talked to the crowd about how prayer is part of his life.
“I wanted to center it around why prayer was important, and what it means to me in my own life,” he said. “And sometimes where if I’d been in a better prayer life with God, I wouldn’t have had so much anxiety.”
Tamme related a couple of stories about his experiences at the Senior Bowl and UK’s Pro Day before he was taken in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts.
“They were a couple of lighthearted stories as it related to that time period in life, things that I’ve learned from that hopefully got related through the stories,” he said.
Tamme said he likes to share his faith whenever possible.
“I do it as much as I can, it is something that’s very important to me. I don’t have any issue saying that,” he said. “I respect everyone’s thoughts and beliefs, but this is something I do believe in, it’s something that’s important to me and it’s something that’s really changed my life over the course of many years.
“So it’s something that’s a neat opportunity to get to come to something like this.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Fate can work in strange ways, but today it almost seems like Denver tight end Jacob Tamme should be destined to help the Broncos beat Seattle in the Super Bowl in New York and get the championship ring he missed three years ago when the Colts lost to the Saints in the Super Bowl.
Why? Because fate has always been kind to Tamme.
Start with how the former Boyle County and University of Kentucky star met his wife, Allison. The two went to preschool together at Lexington Avenue Baptist Church, started dating the summer after their sophomore year and have never been apart. She was the manager for the Boyle football team. Even when he went to Kentucky and she headed to Western Kentucky, they still spent time together.
And don’t forget that Tamme surprised her by proposing after UK played — and won as fate would naturally have it — in the Music City Bowl in Nashville.
Or what about the way fate intervened to even get Tamme to Kentucky.
He was a three-sport star at Boyle with Division I baseball offers along with numerous Division I football offers. However, he always wanted to go to Kentucky.
He was set to commit to UK and coach Guy Morriss the day after Boyle hosted rival Danville his senior year. But the Admirals stunned Boyle — and ended the Rebels’ school-record 47-game win streak. Tamme didn’t go to UK the next day and then-Boyle coach Chuck Smith — who became the Boyle coach again Friday — will never forget the phone call he got back from Morriss on Monday after he had called to say Tamme wanted to verbally commit.
“I was sick to my stomach when I got the call. I thought I was going to throw up,” recalled Smith. “Coach Morriss told me that he didn’t have a scholarship (in-state receiver Keenan Burton had committed and Morriss was out of scholarships for receivers).
“I told him, ‘Wait one second and I will put you on hold and I will get Jacob out of class and he will commit to you on the phone right now.’ He said, ‘Chuck, you don’t understand. I don’t have a scholarship. That scholarship was taken.’ Then I had to tell Jacob.
“Everyone of us was bummed out. I didn’t feel like leaving the house after we lost. I knew how Jacob felt and why he didn’t go to UK the next day. If he had been warned ahead of time, it would have been different. But we had no clue there was just one scholarship left. It was never brought to our attention and that rubbed me the wrong way. Jacob had other offers, but I knew in my heart where he wanted to go and he knew. I remember it like it was yesterday. But he made the best out of the situation because he’s a class act.”
And fate was there to help him.
Kentucky had a successful season, Morriss bolted for Baylor and before UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart had any idea who he was going to hire as coach he called Tamme and asked him to hold off on making a college choice. Tamme waited, Barnhart hired Rich Brooks and then Brooks found a scholarship for Tamme.
Remember, though, it wasn’t instant success for Tamme, not with offensive coordinator Ron Hudson believing he was too slow to play receiver. Only after Brooks was forced to dismiss Hudson and promote Joker Phillips to offensive coordinator at the end of Tamme’s redshirt freshman season did fate smile on Tamme again.
Phillips moved him to tight end, he caught two touchdown passes against Tennessee and went on to set UK records and earn all-SEC honors. That led to him being drafted by Indianapolis — who just happened to have a quarterback named Peyton Manning who liked Tamme off the field and appreciated his value on the field.
When Manning left for Denver two years ago, Tamme happpened to be a free agent at the same time. Fate — and probably Manning — helped get Tamme to the Broncos and now he’s positioned to win a Super Bowl ring.
Still, fate found a way to help one more time. It was just over a year ago that Allison Tamme was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Family and friends supported the Tammes and the couple’s faith surely had to help as well. Plus, Allison Tamme said she now enoys life even more.
Tamme is completing his sixth season in the NFL. That’s a productive career, but I can still remember former UK special teams/tight end coach Steve Ortmayer telling me that if Tamme lasted a year in the NFL he would be there a long time because of his willingness to adapt and character.
“Ort used to tell that and I really respected his opinion on things, especially the NFL because he was there so long,” Smith, who coached with Ortmayer at UK, said. “He told me all the time they look for character kids and when you get one — and Jacob is not a kid — and they want to be part of the team, they will keep you there. As long as they contribute and produce, that’s the kind of guys you want to build a team with he said. Ort said that all the time, and he was right.”
Smith can still remember watching Tamme play for the first time on the Woodlawn Elementary team when he was probably in the fourth grade.
“I think he also came to my (summer) camp. I used to watch him play Little League,” Smith said. “I would go to games and knew he was a really good athlete. But I knew he played all the sports. I always wondered when he was young if he would continue to play football or like so many kids in Kentucky do if he would get caught up in basketball or maybe baseball. But he was a football guy and stuck with it and the rest is history.”
Fate would not have had it any other way. Tamme is playing in the Super Bowl with former Cats Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan, two players Smith coached at UK, and surely that has to be fate and a sign of a win coming today.
“Good things happen to good people. Call it fate or whatever, but Jacob is a good guy and I can’t wait to watch every play and hopefully see him get the win that I know he wants so bad,” Smith said. “Nobody would deserve it more than him, either.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Baptist Press (http://www.bpnews.net) writer Shawn Hendricks has an excellent story on Denver tight end Jacob Tamme preparing for the Super Bowl.
For those who don’t know Tamme well, this quote about the Bible as a source of strength and guidance for him should be no surprise.
“For me the Bible is the rock and the foundation of God’s Word,” Tamme told Hendricks. “I think it grounds you. For me, there’s all sorts of things that want to get [in your mind] and impact the way that we think. … Just to have that foundation every morning is a discipline that I’m really working on.“
By LARRY VAUGHT
Ten years ago former University of Kentucky receiver/defensive back Anthony “Champ” Kelly was the offensive coordinator for Lexington Christian. Today he’s the assistant director of pro personnel for the Denver Broncos and headed to his first Super Bowl in New York where the Broncos will play Seattle. Kelly’s climb to this position has numerous Kentucky connections. Not only was he Lexington Christian’s offensive coordinator, but he worked for Nurse’s Registry and Home Health and IBM, both in Lexington. Kelly played with the Lexington Horsemen, an arena football league team, from 2003-06 and was a two-time all-star. He was named general manager and wide receivers coach for the Horsemen in 2007.
He started as an assistant coordinator of pro and college scouting with Denver and has been in his current position for four years.
Kelly, 34, says helping Denver get to a Super Bowl “basically validates that time, effort and hard work pays” because that’s what he’s always done with every job he’s had.
“I was joking with my wife (Stephanie) the other day saying that when she was dreaming of weddings and wedding dresses, I was dreaming of making the big play in the Super Bowl. Although I never got a chance to play in the NFL, I am still able to realize a dream from another angle. Ultimately, God’s will be done – not Champ Kelly’s. But, He always provides me with ‘immeasurably more.’”
Kelly’s work certainly has put a stamp on the Denver roster as he has been responsible for scouting and evaluating many players on the current roster.
“Through my years as a scout, I’ve learned that successful football programs have successful departments (coaching, scouting, marketing, PR, security, etc). It takes a singular focus on one goal and quality work from every department and person to achieve that goal,” Kelly said. “Our executive vice-president John Elway expects us to perform at a level that will produce World Championships, and that is what we aim to do.
“As far as player development, when you have great coaching and tremendous leadership from polished vets, players can’t help but develop. Our players feed off of each other’s energy and they hold each other accountable. No one wants to let his teammate down. That type of commitment and competition from the starters to the practice squad players produces development and wins.”
Kelly says the Super Bowl is “definitely” on the highlights of his football career.
“But don’t forget, I was a player on the Lexington Horsemen Indoor football team that won a National Championship …lol,” Calipari said. It honestly really hasn’t set-in yet. I was able to grab my daughter from the stands after the game and allow her to partake in the ceremony and confetti drop. That was my highlight. Of course, she isn’t even 2 yet, so she was more focused on Miles our mascot .. lots of luck.”
Kelly said he is “extremely proud” that former UK players Jacob Tamme, Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan have all played key roles for Denver’s success this season.
“Everyone knows that I’m a diehard UK guy. However, I’m more proud of the type of men Woodyard, Tamme and Trevathan have become. They are Godly men who have carried themselves with tremendous character on and off the field,” Kelly said. “They all have faced adversity and hardships on various levels. And, each of them continue to persevere. But we have 53 active players, eight practice squad players and several guys on IR (injured reserve) that I’m proud to watch achieve. It is a special group of men.”
Kelly is already busy with free agency and the upcoming NFL draft and expects to spend much of his time in New York this week “reviewing” game film.
“But I’m definitely going to enjoy this time with my co-workers and family while staying focused. Our task is not complete yet,” Kelly said.
One thing the Broncos’ success won’t change is the C.H.A.M.P. Camp, annual camps Kelly hosts to help youngsters get quality coaching and life advice. His annual camp in Lexington will be June 20-21.
“We are going to add some new wrinkles and new coaches. We are going to do a little more diversification between age groups so that we can get a little more specific with the younger kids and advanced with the older kids,” Kelly said. “There are other Wildcats achieving, too, besides the ones on the Broncos.
“Former Wildcat quarterback Mark Perry was just named the head coach of Lexington Catholic. He has been a great friend and loyal C.H.A.M.P. Camp coach. I’m sure he will have his entire team on hand. Mike Harmon at Tates Creek coached me and coached with me at the Horsemen. Paul Raines, the head coach at Dunbar, and I worked together at Lexington Christian Academy. I’m sure (Henry Clay’s) Sam Simpson and (Bryan Station’s) Frank Parks, who have hosted the camp in years past, will have their boys there.
“I’m grateful of my Kentucky relationships and I look forward to working with these great men to see how we can better serve the youth. I really want this to be a community event and staple in Lexington. We have had great sponsors in the past and rely on generous donations in order to make this camp completely free. For more information on Heart Power and the C.H.A.M.P. Camp or general suggestions, visit www.heartpowerinc.org.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Boyle County native Jacob Tamme has been in the NFL for six years, and will be playing in his second Super Bowl Sunday when his Denver Broncos take on Seattle in New York. Tamme, 28, was a fourth-round draft pick by Indianapolis in the 2008 after his record-setting career at Kentucky. He has 164 career catches for 1,594 yards and eight score. He caught a 1-yard touchdown pass and had another 23-yard reception in last week’s AFC title game win over New England to send him back to the Super Bowl where he played for Indianapolis when the Colts lost to New Orleans.
Statewide media members have covered/watched Tamme’s high school, college and NFL career. Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Mark Story, former WLEX-TV anchor Mary Jo Perino, Kentucky Sports Radio host Ryan Lemond, WLEX-TV sports anchor Alan Cutler, UK Radio Network play-by-play voice Tom Leach and WLAP Sunday Morning Sports Talk host Mark Buerger shared their insights on Tamme.
Question: Will Tamme get a Super Bowl championship ring this time?
Story: “Would sure be cool for the state if the answer is yes.”
Perino: “That’s a tough call. This is a great Super Bowl matchup there’s no doubt. Jacob deserves to wear that ring and Manning is the QB you want on your side, but I think this game might be a little too close to call. I do hope that Jacob is on the winning end of it though.”
Cutler: “I hope so. All four of the UK guys, I include Champ Kelly, are terrific. Plus, one of my all time favorite interviews was with John Elway. I was in Pittsburgh. Day before the game. Back in the 1980′s. We had the interview scheduled for 15 minutes on radio. I had him laughing, and didn’t talk about the game. When I thanked him for his time he said ‘We’re done?’ He asked to stay on. He was on for 45 minutes and thanked us. That never happens. So another reason to root for Denver.”
Lemond: “The Denver Broncos just seem to be a team of destiny this year. All of the stars have aligned for Peyton Manning and the Broncos to win it. For Jacob Tamme, third time is the charm.He gets it, and joins a very exclusive group of former Cats who have actually won a Super Bowl ring. Only Jared Lorenzen and Marty Moore come to mind in recent history. Good luck big fella. Make us all proud.”
Leach: “ Yes. see Peyton Manning as being very comfortable, having gotten past the Tom Brady/New England storyline and I think he’ll have another one of his best games — hopefully connecting with Jacob on another TD pass.”
Buerger: “I really hope so. It’s always hard for me to cheer for other teams, but I will be 100 percent Team Broncos Sunday.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Jacob Tamme and his wife, Allison, will have a slew of family members at the Super Bowl in New York just as they did in Miami in 2010.
“I think everyone is even more excited this time. The first time was emotional and exciting and you think you will never be able to top that feeling,” Tamme said. “But now they are all excited for us to have a chance to win and experience this again. It’s just an incredible feeling.
“Logistics are one of the biggest parts of the whole deal. You’ve got to get the logistics done as fast as you can and then dig into preparation this week because once you get to New York there is so much going on and so many distractions it can be hard to keep your focus on the game. For some teams it’s not easy to stay focused with all the distractions. It’s a little stressful at first getting the logistics taken care of for the family, but once that is over you can concentrate on preparation.”
When the Colts won the AFC title game to reach the Super Bowl, his wife had trouble finding him on the field for the postgame celebration. After the win over New England, his wife and 2-year-old son, Luke, did not try to get on the fi eld.
“Luke and Allison did get down to the rail (on the first row of seats) and we took pictures,” Tamme said. “Later Luke got to run around on the field with his helmet and jersey. We were there with the lights out and all the confetti on the ground and nobody but the guy on the tractor there taking care of the field before we finally left.
“He will definitely go to New York for the Super Bowl and hopefully get to run around again on the field to celebrate a Bronco win there, too. We played Seattle in the preseason the last two years. We have a little familiarity with that. I know their reputation and know they are a physical, tough team and a heck of a team. It should be a great game and I’m just glad I get a chance to be part of it again.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Denver tight end Jacob Tamme is glad to make a return trip to the Super Bowl with quarterback Peyton Manning, who left Indianapolis for Denver as a free agent two years ago just like Tamme did. They have been together all six years Tamme has been in the NFL and even car pool on game day along with tight end Eric Decker.
“Being able to go through this with Peyton is great. Having the opportunity to play with him my whole career has been really special,” Tamme said.
Tamme said the trio usually talk about “life in general” on their game-day drives.
“During the week we are so intense on preparation and so focused. On Sunday on the way to the stadium we can sit back and talk about what is going on in life and what we are getting ready to embark on that day as well,” Tamme said. “It’s fun spending time with those guys. Last week (before the championship game) we talked about the fact that people were talking about us riding together to games.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Jacob Tamme prides himself in his calm demeanor on and off the football field. But even the normally mild-mannered Tamme couldn’t contain himself when he caught a 1-yard touchdown pass in the AFC championship game Sunday that helped Denver beat New England and earn a spot in the Super Bowl Feb. 2 against Seattle.
Tamme made the catch, ran a few yards and spiked the ball into the ground to the roar of fans in Mile High Stadium.
“I was very excited. We have worked so hard this year. I think I have worked harder than I ever have since last season ended until now,” said the former Boyle County and University of Kentucky standout. “To make a big play in a conference championship game was so exciting. I tried to throw the ball into the ground as hard as I could.
“I have always been an ‘act like you have been there’ guy, but you also learn that touchdowns in the NFL are hard to come by. When I got that ball in the end zone and you take the lead in a game that important, the emotion just kind of took over. The whole stadium was rocking. It was just incredible and could not have felt better.”
Tamme, who had two catches in the game, went to the Super Bowl in 2010 with Indianapolis — and quarterback Peyton Manning — and lost 31-17 to New Orleans. The Colts had won the Super Bowl three years earlier.
Now Tamme, 28, not only wants to play in the Super Bowl, but win.
“It is an unbelievable feeling to be going back to another Super Bowl,” Tamme said. “Having gone once already and to have these years in between, it’s unreal. Getting to go to the Super Bowl twice in six years, there’s not a lot of players who can say that. I just feel blessed, but I also know I have to focus on preparation and winning so I can get that (Super Bowl) ring this time. Either you get a ring or you don’t … that’s the reality of it.”
Tamme, a tight end, has enjoyed his “bigger role” on this year’s team than he did when the Colts went to the Super Bowl.
“My career has gone from special teams to offense to special teams and back. But I really feel like I have played a significant role with this team,” Tamme, who had 20 catches for 184 yards this season, said. “I’ve had a heavy role on special teams and on offense when I have been called on I have done more and made some plays in the championship game that were just special. That’s just made this whole experience even better.
“The first time was an incredibly exciting time and now going back is even more exciting. I want to do every little thing in preparation so I can help my team win.”
Tamme is a six-year veteran with 164 career catches for 1,594 yards — a 9.7 average per catch — and eight touchdowns. He was a fourth round pick in the 2008 draft after becoming the all-time leader in catches and yards for a tight end at Kentucky.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Jacob Tamme was the OTHER free agent who chose Denver as his destination last year after making a name for himself in Indianapolis.
His familiarity with Peyton Manning paid off with a starting role for the Broncos in 2012, and he ranked third on the club in catches (52) and yards receiving (555) to go along with two TDs.
That all changed this season with the emergence of Julius Thomas.
With the third-year tight end having an All-Pro kind of season and leading the high-flying Broncos with 10 touchdown catches, Tamme was relegated to special teams and spot duty on offense, where he had just three catches for 27 yards heading into last weekend’s game at New England.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t frustrating sometimes just because I know what I can do and everyone’s eager to have that role and do those things,” Tamme said. “But we’ve got a lot of good players on this team and that’s the way it’s been since I got here. So, Julius has done a great job.
“I feel like I can step in and go and make plays whenever my number’s been called.”
Tamme gave everyone a reminder of his value Sunday night when Thomas missed the game against the Patriots with a balky right knee.
“Jacob had some really significant, contested catches in big moments,” interim coach Jack Del Rio said.
On a frigid night at Gillette Stadium, when the football felt like a frozen turkey and the Broncos lost five fumbles and dropped seven passes, Tamme caught all five thrown his way, covering 47 hard-earned yards.
Four of those were third-down conversions, including a 10-yard TD just before halftime. He also drew a critical pass interference call that set up the late touchdown that sent the game into overtime.
It’s a performance that might have bought him a bigger role down the stretch, even though Thomas is on track to return to action Sunday at Kansas City in an AFC West showdown between two 9-2 teams.
“We like to reward guys that do well and give them a little more,” Del Rio said. “And I would think that would be a strong possibility.”
The Broncos might use more two-tight end sets because Tamme is sure-handed and a tough matchup on intermediate routes that are so crucial in Manning’s quick-fire release.
In the meantime, Tamme said he’ll keep embracing his role on special teams, where he leads the team with eight tackles.
“It’s a fun consolation for me because I do enjoy it,” Tamme said. “I think as you get older, as you get a few years in this league, you realize just how important special teams are to the game and how much of an effect you can have if you can become a guy that teams have to look at.”
Tamme didn’t play much on special teams last year when he and Joel Dreessen were the starting tight ends and combined to catch 93 passes for 911 yards and seven TDs.
Both were hurt last summer, Tamme with a thigh injury and Dreessen with knee problems, opening the door for Thomas.
Now, Thomas has 45 catches for 590 yards, and he’s tied the franchise single-season record for a tight end with 10 TD catches set by Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. Meanwhile, Tamme and Dreessen have combined for 11 catches, 87 yards and two scores.
The way Tamme sees it, special teams allow him to get back to the basics of football, to when he first learned the game at Boyle County High School in Danville, Ky.
“I like the defensive side of it. I like the kickoff team and punt return, being able to go rush a punter and then go make a tackle,” Tamme said.
In Indianapolis, he was Dallas Clark’s backup before making a name for himself in 2010, when he caught 67 passes for 631 yards and four TDs.
“You’ve got to appreciate every snap in this league. It doesn’t last forever,” Tamme said. “That’s why it is frustrating when you’re not playing as much on offense, but when you’re a part of a team like this that has a chance to do really good things, a team that has a legitimate chance to get that end goal, that’s what it’s about for me.”
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos were relieved weakside linebacker Danny Trevathan’s knee injury wasn’t serious after he was carted off the field toward the end of Wednesday’s practice.
“I’m good! Thanks for all of your concerns #BroncosUp,” Trevathan tweeted after his MRI came back negative.
Trevathan will likely be listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Dallas. Teammates initially feared a serious injury to Trevathan, a second-year pro who is having a stellar season.
“It was really tough,” fellow linebacker Steven Johnson said. “I mean, when I see Danny go down, we all walked over to him. Practice kind of came to a halt for a good three to five minutes, and we were sitting there, just kind of praying for him.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Trevathan was the league’s top 4-3 outside linebacker against the run in the first month of the season. He’s also very active in pass coverage. He’s second on the team with 30 tackles and 24 unassisted tackles and has a sack, an interception and four pass breakups so far.
Trevathan, a second-year pro from Kentucky, worked his way into the starting lineup this summer when the Broncos moved Wesley Woodyard to middle linebacker and inserted Nate Irving on the strongside with All-Pro Von Miller having to sit out the first six games on a drug suspension.