Jeremy Bloom and the Shifting Sands of the Rules
Jeremy Bloom may have been one of the greatest athletes in Colorado history. Actually, Jeremy Bloom is without a doubt one of the greatest athletes in Colorado history. And not just the school. The history of the state, too.
He was an Olympic skier and a standout wide receiver and return specialist for some pretty good Colorado football teams in the early part of this century. He was so good at football, in fact, that he was a fifth-round NFL Draft pick in 2006 despite having not played in a college football game since 2003.
For any Buffaloes fan, it's an agonizing "what might have been" story. As you'll recall, the sponsorships Bloom received for skiing made him ineligible to be a "student-athlete" according to the NCAA rules at the time. So his football career ended in 2003, and we'll never know how the next two years might have gone. Colorado was pretty good at the time. The Buffaloes won 15 games over the next two seasons -- seasons which would have been the junior and senior seasons of a guy who was a freshman All-American.
Since then, the NCAA has changed those rules, and Bloom has a bone to pick.
Bloom is on something of a crusade about this, and understandably so. There's no telling what would have happened with those Buffaloes teams had, you know, the best athlete on the team been allowed to play. But there's also Bloom's career to think about. Sure, he had a blessed skiing career, and he did get his shot in the NFL. But he missed out on a lot of development during those years he was out. It's certain he would have been a better player in 2006, had he been allowed to play college football in 2004 and 2005.
As it happened, Bloom's NFL career didn't last long and he's remembered mostly for this exact controversy.
It's a good reminder that as time goes on, the rules change, often right under people's feet, sometimes with life-ruining consequences.
In Bloom's case, the rules change reflects on him a different way. It makes you remember how good he was, and how good he may well have been.
But it's something to keep in mind for those who aren't so lucky.