HOUSTON - Brad Van Pelt remembers a soccer game his son Bradlee played when he was about 6 years old, an age when most kids cared more about postgame ice cream cones than who won or lost. Bradlee’s team lost 2-1, as Brad recalls. The teams lined up to shake hands after the game, but Bradlee was nowhere to be found. “I finally saw him behind a tree — I saw his feet,” said Brad Van Pelt, who played linebacker in the NFL with the Giants, Raiders and Browns from 1973-86. “I said, ‘You have to shake hands’ and he said, ‘Dad, we could have won, we could have won!’ “On one hand I’m saying, ‘Yes, I got one.’ Even at that age he was competitive and had a burning desire to win. But I said, ‘You know, you have to understand a few things too, Bradlee. You have to be a good sport.’” Bradlee hasn’t forgotten that soccer game either. “I remember that,” said Bradlee, the Denver Broncos’ backup quarterback who played at Colorado State. “I was a big crier when I lost as a kid. When I lost, it hurt me. It hurt me to the point where I couldn’t talk to people and I cried.” Bradlee is 25 now but still gets himself in trouble at times. He’s honest to a fault, stubborn and in the process of maturing. But he still has that burning desire and also possesses great athletic skills. That’s why, even though his pro experience consists of one series in the fourth quarter of a preseason game last year, he moved from fourth to second on the Broncos’ depth chart since the end of last season. But Bradlee will tell you about his mistakes. He’ll tell you about almost anything you want to know. He’s the same guy who after CSU beat Colorado in 2002, called the Buffaloes the worst seventh-ranked team he ever saw. “They didn’t play very well and it was probably a truthful statement at that game at that time,” his father said. “But I was thinking, ‘You couldn’t word it a little different?’ But that’s Bradlee. He never sugarcoated anything, not even to his parents or brothers.” Last year after Denver drafted Bradlee in the seventh round, Brad said he tried to convince his son not to rent an apartment in downtown Denver. He tried to tell Bradlee about the traffic and the commute and how upset the Broncos would be if he were late for meetings. Bradlee got the apartment, and was late for a few meetings last year. Bradlee has grown up some, his father said. But he’s still doing it his way. And he’s going to speak his mind. “I was always that guy, since I was a kid,” Bradlee said. “That’s one difference between me and my brothers. I said how it was. I saw how it was too. I didn’t try to sit there and give excuses. If I lost, I lost. If I won, I won. If you’re an (expletive), I’m going to tell you you’re an (expletive). I’m very truthful.” Bradlee’s belief in himself is the only reason he is a No. 2 quarterback in the NFL. He went to Michigan State out of high school but the Spartans wanted to move him to defense. Colorado State wasn’t completely sold on Van Pelt as a quarterback either. But he refused to play another position and eventually was a two-time first-team All-Mountain West Conference pick. He’ll get a lot of playing time Saturday, when the Broncos open the preseason against the Houston Texans. “I’m just going to keep on climbing,” Bradlee said. “I know I’m going to keep getting better and better. It’s surprising, but to me and the people who believed in me, it’s not surprising.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 476-4891 or firstname.lastname@example.org NEXT Preseason opener: Denver at Houston, 6 p.m. Saturday, CBS, 740 AM, 850 AM
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