As Kordell Stewart bounced around in the pocket and the clock hit all zeros, Colorado’s hopes of victory rested on his right arm.
One of the most talented quarterbacks in CU history, he cocked his arm and let the ball fly, launching it more than 70 yards into the Ann Arbor, Mich., sky and, eventually, into the arms of Michael Westbrook.
The Miracle in Michigan was the most iconic moment of Stewart’s time at CU, but certainly not the only highlight of his brilliant career.
On Thursday night, Stewart was one of 11 legends that made up the 14th class inducted into the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame.
“It’s beyond me,” Stewart said of the honor. “You never thought that the work you put in and the things that you do because you love it so much, you never even really care so much about getting to a hall of fame, but more or less trying to win a championship with the guys around you.”
Stewart brought the crowd to its feet as a player and did it again Thursday as he led them in the fight song to cap his speech.
Stewart headlined a class that included four other football greats: Pete Brock, Daniel Graham, Ron Scott and Steve Sidwell. Also in the class was three-sport star Hatfield Chilson; men’s basketball players Charlie Gardner and Chuck Williams; baseball player Jay Howell; women’s track and field sprinter Donna Waller; and women’s skier Lucie Zikova.
“It means so much,” Graham said. “When I enrolled here, I never really imagined this would happen. When Rick George called me, I was just honored and thankful for the call.
“I didn’t expect that from him. I thought he was calling me about maybe I could help out with the (current) team. When he told me (about the hall of fame), I was real honored when I got that phone call from him.”
Both Graham and Stewart enjoyed long NFL careers before returning to CU in recent years to finish their degrees.
For Stewart, to get the call from George was his latest great CU moment and he proudly walked into the ceremony next to his 15-year-old son, Syre.
“When I got here today, I was still in disbelief,” Stewart said. “This is one of my most favorite places in the world that I visit. I had a chance to go to school here, I graduated from here, my son is getting a chance to see me get all these accolades from a degree to bringing him to a camp here and now he gets a chance to see his dad going to something extremely special. It’s something we can have in our family forever.”
Graham, who completed his career in 2001, was the first player from his era to get inducted into the CU hall of fame.
“Just to know that I’m the first of the guys that I played with, it’s a really big honor,” he said. “I guess I did something special here when I was here to get this honor, and I’m appreciative of it.”
Gardner and Williams brought back great memories of CU’s past in basketball, while Howell starred in a sport that no longer is played at CU as one of the last baseball players in school history.
Waller and Zikova represented two of the great female athletes in CU’s rich history as two of the most decorated athletes in their sports.