ENGLEWOOD – Nick Kasa has made plenty catches in his life, but it was one drop that nearly derailed a great opportunity for the former University of Colorado tight end.
Out of football and working hard for another chance in the NFL, the 25-year-old Kasa found one at the most unlikely time when the Denver Broncos signed him to the practice squad on Monday.
Now he’s heading to the Super Bowl with a chance for a championship ring.
“It’s a freaking dream come true,” he said Thursday after his first practice with Denver. “I don’t know how to describe it. It’s still fresh in my brain and a whirlwind going around in there. It’s good to be here.”
The opportunity nearly eluded him. Kasa was at Sports Authority Field rooting for the Broncos against New England in the AFC championship game last Sunday and had no clue he was being pursued by the teams he was watching. Both squads tried to contact him during the game but he had dropped his phone and cracked the screen, rendering it useless.
He accessed his messages Monday and heard the Broncos wanted to sign him to their practice squad, so he raced to get his phone replaced.
Once he connected with the Broncos he quickly signed.
“I didn’t see this coming,” the Legacy High School grad said. “I thought the season was drawing to an end. I was ready to move on to the next year and they surprised me with this call.”
Now he’s going to the Super Bowl, helping the team prepare for Carolina by playing the role of Greg Olsen. At 6-foot-5, 265 pounds Kasa is nearly the exact size of the Panthers’ Pro Bowl tight end.
“I guess my role is to be the best Greg Olsen that I can,” he said. “The last couple of days I started looking at some film of him. Before Monday, I didn’t know that’s what I was going to have to do. That’s what they’ve asked me to do right now, try to give defense best look I can.”
It has been a long road to get to this point, even if it is being on the practice squad. Kasa, a four-year letterman at Colorado, was a defensive lineman his first three seasons. He moved to tight end in 2012 and had 25 catches for 391 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games.
He was impressive enough in his one year on offense to be taken by the Raiders in the sixth round of the 2013 draft. He played in all 16 games for Oakland that season and had one catch as a rookie, a 9-yard touchdown grab against Denver in Week 17.
He was on injured reserve in 2014 with a torn ACL and Oakland released him last offseason.
He stayed in shape while waiting for another opportunity, but he didn’t expect it to come before the biggest game of the season. Now he has a stall in the locker room of the AFC champions and sits next to a fellow CU alum, offensive lineman Tyler Polumbus.
Kasa knows, barring an unforeseen series of events, he won’t be activated for the Super Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif. Still, three days after he signed he’s still trying to wrap his mind around what has transpired.
“It’s been pretty crazy, kind of indescribable,” he said. “These guys have been working hard toward this for a long time and for me to come in at the end here, it’s just kind of an out-of-the-ordinary event.”