Broncos honor late fan by bringing Lombardi Trophy to funeral

Ten days after the Broncos won Super Bowl 50, the championship hardware made it to a fan's funeral. Cindy Hoffman

Bob Carney was the biggest of Denver Broncos fans. A season ticket holder since 1965, he would fill out pages upon pages of notes on whom the team drafted each year -- helping him to get to know the new names of his beloved squad.

Family and business matters kept Carney, an attorney, from going to Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII, when the Broncos won back-to-back titles. So when Carney won tickets to Super Bowl 50 through the team, he wasn't going to be stopped.

He invited his daughter, Cindy Hoffman, whose alliance to the Broncos came through her blood, and the two traveled to San Francisco two days before the game.

But the 73-year-old Carney didn't make it to Levi's Stadium that Sunday. He collapsed hours after getting off the plane in the lobby of the hotel, suffered a pulmonary embolism and never recovered.

And we would have never heard about this story if Cindy decided to go home. While a daughter could never be prepared for the death of her father, Cindy was as prepared as one could be.

She is a hospice nurse and deals with death on a daily basis. In fact, she often goes to Broncos games wearing good luck charms of those fans who gave her their special something in their last moments on Earth.

So in between dealing with arrangements to donate her father's corneas, skin and bone tissue and talking to the mortuary, Cindy rallied like her father would want her to. She was going to the game and her friend Kerry flew in to take her dad's ticket. Saturday night, Hoffman went to her dad's suitcase and took out what would have been his game-day outfit -- a pair of khakis and an Elway jersey -- and she brought it to the mortuary so that it could be there with him.

On Sunday morning, she did her part. She dressed to the nines as she always did for Broncos games. She said she felt her dad throughout the game, especially four minutes and 12 seconds into the second quarter when Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano clanked a 44-yard field goal off the right upright.

"I swear that was my dad's doing," she would say.

And when it was all over and the Broncos won, there were tears. But they were tears of joy.

Ten days after the game, Bob Carney was laid to rest.

PrimeSport, which provided the flights and hotel for Cindy and her dad, is a partner of the Broncos and the company had let them know about Bob's passing.

Before the funeral started, Billy Thompson, the cornerback whom Bob watched for 13 years in Denver, showed up. He and some Broncos representatives also brought the championship hardware.

"When I saw the Lombardi Trophy, I cried even more," Cindy said. "People who had known my dad who didn't care for football told me they just became Broncos fans."