Cyrus McCimmon / The Denver Post
Charlie Riedel / Associated Press
As an 11-year old, Jeremy Bloom sat on his couch in his Loveland home and made the declaration he was going to the Olympics.
Not any Olympics, but he specifically targeted the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. It was a big goal for a young man from Loveland, but what he didn’t realize at the time was he was selling himself short.
The key was, Bloom has never stopped dreaming.
“You never could have told me that then,” Bloom said. “That was a big dream for me then.
“I’ve never stopped dreaming. I don’t know what it would feel like to not have those Olympic-type dreams, those NFL-type dreams. I have them today, just in a different arena.”
Already a member of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame (he was inducted in 2012), Bloom was selected Tuesday along with five others to become the next class of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.
He will be joined by former Littleton swim coach Maurice “Stringy” Ervin, Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, Colorado Rockies outfielder Dante Bichette, world champion squash player Hashim Khan and old timer selection John Wooten, a football standout at CU, during a ceremony on April 27, 2017 at the Denver Marriott City Center.
Bloom grew up playing a multitude of sports, ranging from skiing to football, even earning a black belt in karate at the age of 12. When he wasn’t tearing up the Intermountain circuit on skis, he was already displaying his speed on football fields around town as a youth. The one thing he learned early was to never let somebody tell him he couldn’t do something.
Like participate in skiing and football at the same time. He went to a U.S. National Ski Team camp the same week Loveland High’s football team was preparing for a playoff game with Lakewood. He returned the day before the game, went over the plan and torched the Tigers on a snowy field for more than 200 yards and two scores. He helped the Indians win a state title in football and the track team win two titles.
“It starts with my parents,” he said. “Both of my parents have always had a healthy disrespect for the impossible, and that really helped shape me, and they made me believe I could do that.”
He’s the only Olympic skier to be drafted by the NFL, but it was skiing that earned him international recognition.
He had accepted a scholarship to play for the Buffs, but delayed his enrollment to prepare for the 2002 Salt Lake Games. Then CU coach Gary Barnett said he’s heard it all from coaches on the recruiting trail, such as they may get drafted in baseball, but that a recruit may go to the Olympics as a skier, that was new.
“You go, ‘oh, OK.’ You sort of believe it, but you don’t really believe it,” Barnett said with a laugh. “So then it came time for him to go to South America for a camp in the summer, and we’re like, sure. He goes down and blows them away, then he comes back and says, ‘I will honor my scholarship and not go to the Olympics.’ I told him no way, you’re going to the Olympics.”
That year, 2002, was when he won his first World Cup title, becoming the youngest to accomplish the feat at the time. Then he returned to the Buffs to play football.
Barnett said the one aspect that always stood out about Bloom was his competitive drive.
“He was at one of our camps, and our receivers coach loved him,” Barnett said. “He was the smallest guy there, but he was so competitive, he didn’t know he was the smallest guy. The guy just loved to compete.”
Barnett and Joel Klatt, who played quarterback for the Buffs, both saw Bloom as a raw talent because he never really had the time to learn and study football, but his rare physical gifts helped him earn freshman All-American honors. Klatt said he tried repeatedly in practice to overthrow Bloom and never did.
“I’ve never seen anybody in all of my years that was just as fast, maybe even faster, when he put his pads on,” Klatt said. “It was so surprising.”
Klatt said Bloom was a big play waiting to happen, showing off that ability with a pair of long receiving touchdowns, two punt returns for scores and one kickoff return in a career that was limited to two seasons (2002-03) after losing a ruling to the NCAA that would allow him to earn a living as a skier and continue to play for the Buffs, despite seeing athletes do it in other sports, such as baseball.
Bloom would win his two other World Cup titles in 2005, a remarkable season that saw him set a record with six consecutive World Cup event wins, a mark that stood until 2012. Overall, he won 12 World Cup events and amassed 26 podium finishes.
His skiing career ended at the 2006 Turin Olympics, then two days later he participated in the NFL combine.
Despite being away from the game, the Philadelphia Eagles saw enough to make him a fifth-round draft choice in 2006. Injuries derailed his NFL chances (he was picked up a year later by Pittsburgh), and now Bloom is on to his next athletic endeavor. He moved to Venice Beach, Calif., and is currently learning to surf.
But he never stopped his pursuit of excellence.
That took him beyond the realm of sports. He co-founded Integrate and serves as the marketing technology company’s CEO. He has made sure to give back, establishing Wish of a Lifetime in honor of his grandparents, an organization that makes dreams come true for senior citizens. Established in 2008, the group granted four wishes that first year. Now it has expanded into Canada and averages a wish granted a day.
“He was so in tune with things larger than himself, for one, and two, larger than just football,” Klatt said. “I knew right then that whatever Jeremy was going to get involved in, he was always going to be successful at, be it athletically or outside of that.
“He’s done a remarkable job, and I’m really proud of him and what he’s been able to accomplish. It’s a pretty remarkable thing.”
Bloom had a chance to look over the list of those already inducted, and he said it includes many of his childhood heroes, people who inspired him to shoot for the stars. To be among them, he’s floored.
“It’s humbling. It was a big honor to be inducted into the Colorado Skiing Hall of Fame, and it was another huge honor to be inducted into the U.S. Skiing Hall of Fame,” he said. “This one is a little different. This is not skiing, it’s sports in general. If you look at skiers inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, there’s only a handful of them.
“It’s a little bit different of a feeling knowing Colorado is one of the best sports state’s in the entire nation, and thinking about all the incredible athletes who have come through and made Colorado their home. It’s pretty special.”