ENGLEWOOD - Yes, grandma Aldo spoke on the phone to her now famous grandson.
“I talked to her last night,’’ said Will Parks, the Denver Broncos rookie safety who returned a blocked punt by his rookie classmate Justin Simmons for a length-of-field, 2-point conversion that gave their team a preposterous, 25-23 win Sunday afternoon against the New Orleans Saints. “She was crying. She said she had forgot she had taken me to the ballet. It was actually in third grade. I went for like a week after football practice. And it actually improved my footwork, but you never in life when something can play a key moment that actually played. Because I can remember being on my toes and they hurt. And I ran down the sideline and the referee was looking right at it. He was right there so that’s another reason I knew I didn’t step out.’’
Parks had told reporters following the game that his grandma Aldo took him to ballet classes when he was in fourth or fifth grade. For a week. Not two weeks. He got a clarification later that he was only in third grade.
The ballet class became entwined with Parks tight-roping down the left sideline to the point the Saints’ challenged that he stepped out of bounds. His white shoes and white socks blended in with the white-chalked sideline so that it was difficult to discern conclusively whether he did or didn’t step on the line.
“I’ve always liked wearing white shoes, bright shoes because I like my feet to look fast,’’ Parks said.
There was no reversal. The 2-point conversion stood and the Broncos won. Parks and Simmons have become overnight Broncos celebrities.
“It’s been ridiculous,’’ Parks said. “My phone’s been dying going crazy, I’ve been trending. Justin as well, Justin has been trending. If that what it takes to get a W, then that’s what it’s going to be.’’
Crick in the back
Thanks to the close inspection of 9News video editor/photographer Jeff Dressel, the public became aware that Broncos’ defensive lineman Jared Crick became an unsung hero in the winning, 2-point conversion. Crick pushed down on Saints long snapper Justin Drescher as Simmons leaped over to make the block. Adam Gotsis pushed from the other side of center but not as pronounced as Crick.
The coordinated play between Crick and Simmons became a focus point on 9News’ Broncos Tonight show Sunday night.
Dean Blandino, who heads NFL officiating, tweeted Monday that Crick’s maneuver was within the rules.
"He's going to get his hands top of the snapper and push him toward the ground," Blandino said. "That's legal. Open-hand push, legal. If there was a grab and a pull, that would be defensive holding."
It just didn’t look legal.
“Trust me, I’ve been getting plenty of hate,’’ Crick said. “But that’s my job, I’ve got to do it. If they want to call a penalty, then that’s what they’ll do but they didn’t and it won us the game.’’
Broncos long snapper Casey Kreiter was asked if there’s anything Drescher could have done differently on the play to prevent the Simmons Leap.
“The biggest thing for us, the very first thing we need to worry about is getting the snap to the holder,’’ Kreiter said. “That’s any long snapper. You can worry about a leaper, you can worry about a rush, but if you don’t get the ball to the holder, what happens on the kick doesn’t matter.
“Techniques protection-wise are a little different throughout the league. Some teams teach their guys to stick their fists in the ground and stay low so you don’t get knocked back. Now with the leaper that’s going to change because you’ve got to get a little height so that guy has a long way to jump or maybe you can knock him down. Putting your fists in the ground helps if you’re getting a bull rush, but if you’re going to get jumped over it doesn’t help much.’’
It appeared Drescher, who played at the University of Colorado, went with the fists-in-the-ground technique, although he didn’t have much choice with Crick pushing down on him.
“He has been doing it but we had a good scheme,’’ Kreiter said. “Joe (DeCamillis, the Broncos’ special teams coordinator) had our guys laying on top of him. It makes it hard. That’s a good scheme right there and makes it tough to block.’’
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