It's been 25 years since Chad Brown last played football at Colorado and to do this day, he's jealous of the current players who get the opportunity to run behind Ralphie.

"It's weird because when you're in the program, you don't know what you're going to miss and what's going to make you jealous," said Brown, a linebacker with the Buffs from 1989-92, "but just running out behind Ralphie ... I know I can't go out there and play football anymore, but I can go out and run behind Ralphie, so I would love to get that chance to do that again."

For the past 50 years, CU players have started (almost) every game at Folsom Field by running onto the turf behind the beloved mascot. Including bowl games and a few others on the road, five different Ralphies have led the Buffs to the field 332 times over the years. The current Buffs don't take the opportunity for granted.

"Running behind Ralphie to me, it's a feeling you can't really explain," receiver Devin Ross said. "I feel like no other school has something like that. It's just pretty special. I wish we could do it at all the away games, too. Ralphie is special. It's nothing you can really compare it to."

No player on the CU roster has had more opportunities to run behind Ralphie than left tackle Jeromy Irwin, a sixth-year senior.

"I don't think anybody could really argue there's a better mascot in football," Irwin said. "Running out in Folsom behind Ralphie is probably the best thing I've ever done. Every week that we play at home, it's very exhilarating and it has a lot of tradition to it. I love it; that's why I came back a sixth year."


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Growing up in Rifle, safety Ryan Moeller became quite familiar with the tradition and feels blessed that he's been able to be a part of it the last few years.

"It's something I saw growing up and I now get to do myself," he said. "It's pretty exhilarating. You get your blood pumping and you get pretty pumped up when you're out there behind that animal."

That's the feeling Brown misses all these years later as he watches current Buffs charge onto the field behind their 1,200-pound mascot.

"It's the culmination of the week of work," Brown said. "You literally explode out onto Folsom Field behind Ralphie. It's a special feeling.

"I've been to enough different college football games and NFL games, and I'm not just saying this because I'm a Buff, but it really is the best entrance in all of football. To have done that for years, just thinking about it makes me smile. It's one of those things you wish you could do again."

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