Years ago, former Colorado football star Rashaan Salaam was standing on the sidelines at a game at Folsom Field when he was asked to leave by a security guard who had good intentions, but simply didn't recognize him.

"One of his more painful moments," former CU teammate Chad Brown recalled this week. "For a guy who was a very sensitive person, that struck him deeply."

The 1994 Heisman Trophy winner and one of the greatest players to ever wear a CU uniform, Salaam sometimes struggled with a perceived lack of recognition from the school.

On Saturday, the late Salaam, who took his own life on Dec. 5, was given the recognition he deserved at Folsom Field, as CU retired the No. 19 jersey he wore during his career in Boulder, from 1992-94.

CU held a ceremony after the first quarter, during which Salaam's No. 19 was unveiled on the fa├žade of the east side of Folsom Field.

Salaam joins Bobby Anderson (No. 11, 1967-69), Joe Romig (No. 67, 1959-61) and Byron White (No. 24, 1936-37) as the only players to have their numbers retired by CU. It's the first time in 47 years that CU has retired a number in football.

"It's an honor for him to be able to get his jersey hanged; he deserves it," current CU running back Phillip Lindsay said. "He's our only Heisman winner, and he did a lot for this program while he was here."

Salaam's family and friends, including his parents, attended the ceremony. Anderson, Romig and the family of White were all on hand, as well. Legendary CU head coach Bill McCartney, who coached Salaam, was also on hand for the ceremony, along with several former CU players.


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Salaam was the only player in program history to win the Heisman Trophy, when he rushed for a program-record 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns in 1994. He finished with 3,057 yards and 33 touchdowns in his career.

"It's well deserved, obviously," Brown said. "I thought his Heisman Trophy was kind of the culmination of that era, where we gained some prominence on the field and with that comes national awards. For Rashaan to win the top player in college football spoke a lot about his season and himself as a player, but also where our program was at that time and the type of respect we had nationally."

More than 20 years after his final game at Folsom Field, Salaam is still revered by those who played with him and those who have followed in his footsteps by becoming Buffs.

Current CU players walk by Salaam's Heisman Trophy nearly every day and recognize the impact he has had on the program.

"It's a really big deal," CU senior captain George Frazier said. "He's the one guy that's won a Heisman for us. Knowing his history and knowing everything that he's done for CU, it means a lot."

Lindsay, who recently passed Salaam on CU's all-time rushing list, had a chance to meet Salaam and appreciated Salaam's humble nature. He also appreciated Salaam's talent.

"He was physical, fast, he could make you miss," Lindsay said. "He had the whole package. You don't get a lot of players like that. The man went out there and had 2,000 yards rushing.

"It's going to be an honor to watch his jersey retired."

It's an honor those who played with Salaam, too. While Salaam couldn't be there, Brown said it was special knowing many of Salaam's teammates were there.

"For that era of CU football, that brotherhood to come back together and celebrate his legacy in some ways is also our legacy," Brown said. "We can remember Rashaan, but we can also remember each other. Hopefully that kind of bond would prevent another tragedy from happening."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33