KALISPELL — The moment still brings tears to Carol Sullivan’s eyes, but is joined by a smile when she thinks or talks about it.
“I just have one regret about dying and that’s (leaving) you,” she said of what her husband told her before he passed away earlier this month.
And then he said ...
“Maybe two regrets. I won’t get to see Brock play.”
Before Carol’s husband, Bob, died of cancer on Aug. 5, at the age of 74, he was treated to a special July 15 afternoon visit by former Flathead High School and Arizona State University football star and current Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler.
Osweiler took a break from his quick vacation with friends in the Flathead Valley before NFL training camps opened to make Bob’s sporting day a very special and memorable one.
“Thirty to 40 minutes,” Carol said of the visit, “which was fine because Bob said ‘I don’t want to keep you (from doing something else).’
“He (Brock) shook Bob’s hand, gave him a hug and said it was an honor to meet him.
“My husband is 6-foot and he (Osweiler) dwarfed him.”
Osweiler is listed at 6-7, 245-pounds in the Broncos media guide.
“I was excited for him,” she said of her husband. “I thought he (Osweiler) was terrific.”
Carol said Osweiler autographed a couple Broncos hats along with a John Elway poster on the wall.
“He had Brock sign everything,” she said.
Even a basketball.
“Brock had a couple friends with him,” she said. “They were all gentlemen. He talked the whole time he was here. A nice young man, so polite.”
Osweiler was joined by high school friend Travis Anders, Jason Dunfee and his ASU college roommate. They also shook hands with Bob.
Carol said her husband talked to Osweiler about his all-time favorite Bronco - John Elway.
“We’re both big John Elway fans,” she said.
Bob, a Denver native, was a Broncos fan from Day 1. That dates back to 1960 when the city was awarded a franchise.
Football Sundays in the fall for the Sullivans were always time for parties with friends. Bob always wore a Broncos shirt for those events.
Carol said their anniversary fell on a football Sunday one year.
“He took me to dinner at Applebee’s,” she said. “I said: ‘You don’t have to do this.’ I got so mad at him because he watched football on the TV (all the time we were there).”
The Sullivans were happily married nearly 55 years.
Bob Applegate, a former Flathead High School head football coach and the Sullivans’ neighbor, is the one who made the visit with Brock happen.
“Bob (Applegate) bless his heart,” Carol said. “Again, I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Bob.”
Applegate and her husband would often talk about house painting and sports over a 5-foot chain-link fence that separated their backyards.
“I’ve been in his pool room and knew he was a big Denver Broncos fan and that he was from Denver,” Applegate said.
“A year ago he was showing me all this stuff from Arizona State and said ‘you might know this kid.’ He said it would be nice if he goes to ‘my Broncos’.
“I told him he’s a good kid. Then this summer he showed me he got drafted. He was so excited.”
Applegate, who coached Osweiler in junior high basketball, told Sullivan he would try to get Brock to stop by if he visited Kalispell in the summer.
“He (Bob) said. ‘You would do that?’ He was all excited.”
Applegate then got in touch with Osweiler.
“I told Brock he (Bob) was a big Broncos fan, was raised in Denver, that he wasn’t doing well ... that he might not make it through the summer. He (Brock) said: ‘Coach, enough said. What time do you want me there and when. If he’s that big of a Broncos fan, I’d love to meet him.’
“Brock was impressed with all the Denver stuff he had,” Applegate said. “He saw one banner was signed by the Broncos’ first Super Bowl team.
“When Brock was leaving, Bob said: ‘I hope to see you playing on Sunday.’ Brock said: ‘I think this is Peyton’s (team) to run for a few years. I’ll wait my turn.’ Bob laughed. He got a kick out of that.
“He couldn’t wait to call his father-in-law in Denver,” Applegate said. “He almost had tears in his eyes. He thought it was great he had a Denver Bronco in his pool room.”
“He was proud of that,” Carol said. “I emailed pics to all the kids.”
“He was very excited about it. He kept saying over and over ‘what a nice kid’ and he was so grateful to Bob (Applegate). Bob made that great day happen.”