DENVER (CBS4) – On Super Bowl Sunday on the south side of Sloan’s Lake Park, football is a family affair. For nearly 30 years, the Cespedes Family has gathered at the park ahead of the big game to plan an intense showdown of tackle football.
“My family has always loved football,” Alicia Cespedes said. “It started off many years ago with uncles playing cousins and before we knew it, it started growing out to the community.”
Perhaps no one loves the family tradition more than Alicia’s brother Michael.
“I love football because it’s a team sport,” he told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
Michael has enjoyed his family’s tradition since the beginning, especially before muscular dystrophy kept him on the sidelines.
“I was out there just like everyone else,” Michael said using his special headset and speaker attached to his wheelchair. “I caught a pass and that was exciting.”
Now family and friends take to the impromptu gridiron to play for Michael. Over the last few years, it has quickly become a community event.
“We’ve even had people who are walking in the park and they’ll say, ‘Hey, can we play with you guys?’ And we’re like, ‘Yeah, come on!’” Alicia explained with a big smile.
Michael may not be in the middle of the action anymore, but he’s still a big part of the game.
“My brother Michael prays over the team and makes sure that everything goes well,” Alicia said. “Although, we have had some broken bones before.”
From his wheelchair, Michael happily enjoys the often rough and wild game from the sidelines, even though he cannot see a single play.
“I lost my vision 19 years ago,” he said.
Michael is legally blind, yet he still has a good idea of what’s happening on the field thanks to his sister’s play-by-play of the hard-hitting action.
“Anthony’s the quarterback, he’s looking deep,” Alicia explained to Michael during Sunday’s game. “Oh no! He dropped the ball!”
When asked what he thought of his sister’s game-calling skills, Michael was quick to compliment her.
“She does fantastic,” he said, briefly pausing before adding, “given the circumstances.”
Even though he cannot see every snap, muddy tackle or touchdown, Michael said he can really feel the game’s excitement, as well as the love of community his family tradition created.
“I really feel blessed,” Michael said. “It’s not just a family thing, it’s a community thing.”