Remembering Tennyson McCarty

It was a crisp spring afternoon. I was sitting in Daddy Bruce's Barbecue on Arapahoe Ave., just a few hundred yards from the CU practice fields. That sweet, tangy smoke rose from the small, one-room shack-of-a-restaurant and filled the air with an irresistible odor. Tennyson McCarty was sitting there, too, finishing a plate of Mr. Bruce's barbecue.

McCarty was a regular. Had been since he was a kid who grew up in Boulder, went to Boulder High, then played football at Colorado, lettering from 1994-97. Tennyson was chewing the fat with Mr. Bruce Randolph between chewing on his barbecue.

Something happened before Tennyson was done eating. A car carrying two college kids pulled up to the pile of wood Mr. Randolph keeps in his parking lot, the wood he uses to smoke the meat he serves to customers each week. Unabashedly, in broad daylight, the kids started putting pieces of Mr. Randolph's wood in their car.

Mr. Randolph and Tennyson saw the thievery about the same time. Mr. Bruce, an elderly man, started out from behind the counter to confront the kids, but Tennyson was out of his seat and through the door first. A deeply religious guy with a gentle, friendly demeanor, Tennyson was ticked off at what was happening to his friend. He used all of his 6-foot-5 frame and gave the college kids a piece of his mind as they quickly threw the wood back into the pile and sped away.

Mr. Randolph thanked Tennyson. The former Buff got back to his barbecue. The two old friends shared a few more laughs. That's all I remember.

Tennyson went missing this past Tuesday. Family members, concerned, put in a missing persons report. He was found dead Friday near a vehicle parked on the Peak to Peak Highway, northeast of Peaceful Valley, authorities say. The cause of Tennyson's death is under investigation, but police say they don't suspect foul play was involved.

Tennyson's older brother, Eric, is the head physician for the CU football team.

On Saturday, Eric talked about his brother this way: "He was incredibly giving, one of the most unselfish people I know. He probably gave so much that he didn't have anything left for himself.

"I loved him very much and was so proud of everything he did. He had great passion in almost everything he did, and he lived his life with great love and giving."

Eric decided to fulfill his duties as CU's doctor on Saturday and care for the Colorado football players, despite suffering untold pain himself.

"CU was his passion, my passion too," Eric reasoned. "It was good to go to the field where we played. He poured his heart out at Folsom."

Tennyson was an illusionist. He and a friend traveled the country as Christian ministers, performing magic tricks and talking about their faith.

I had spoken to Tennyson a few times. Seen him do some of his magic tricks. Watched him play football and watched him help out a friend by shooing away some would-be thieves.

Hearing about his death on a football Saturday was a big reminder. We get so very caught up in winning and losing these days. Win and the world is all right. Lose and someone's got to pay.

But there are things much more important than turnovers, win/loss columns or bowl games.

Make a point to tell your loved ones how you feel about them today. Do it tomorrow and the next day, too.

Pay a kindness to a stranger this coming week.

Take care of your friends like Tennyson was in the habit of doing.

And say a prayer for the McCarty clan.

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