Can Phillip Lindsay lightning strike twice in the same place? Come on, NFL gods, make it happen. Give us this one.
“He’s just so ecstatic that he’s here,” Steve Borghi told me by phone Thursday, just after his son Max, the state-champion tailback at Pomona High School and Denver Post Gold Helmet winner, had wrapped up his first preseason practice as a Denver Bronco.
“That whole Phillip Lindsay thing repeats. He just wants his moment to try and shine and make some big plays and go at it.”
Cut the kid open, he bleeds orange and blue.
Max was 15 when he attended the last Broncos Super Bowl victory parade downtown. A poster of Peyton Manning hung from the wall in his room. He was one of those whippersnappers in that autograph line at UCHealth Training Center, hoping to bring a piece of his heroes back home with him.
“I did come out here once with my buddies,” Borghi, the Arvada kid who signed a free-agent contract Wednesday with the Broncos, admitted with a grin. “I actually have a little mini football. I don’t even remember what year it was, but we’ve got all the autographs on it (from the Broncos). It’s sitting somewhere in my closet.”
On Thursday, he was on the other side of the rope, running routes, pitching in on punt coverage and learning the NFL ropes on the fly.
“Obviously, I’m coming in late to camp,” said Borghi, the former Washington State standout who joined the party after wide receiver Tim Patrick and tailback Damarea Crockett were placed on injured reserve. “So I’m way behind, mentally.
“Really, whatever my opportunity is, I don’t care. I just want to get on the field, no matter if it’s special teams and scout team, whatever it is. I’m grateful to be out here. I love football and … I’ve got to just take advantage, every single day because you never know when it could be your last chance.”
A chance — a look — is all Borghi’s asking for at this point. Undrafted after running wild at Wazzu (41 touchdowns in 39 collegiate games, where he averaged 6.3 yards per scrimmage touch), the 5-foot-10, 197-pound tailback is hoping he can follow in the footsteps of Lindsay, the ex-Denver South and CU tailback who surfed the chip on his shoulder all the way to the Pro Bowl. The former Buff raised the bar for college free agents, rushing for 1,097 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie in 2018.
“(During) the whole process. I’ve been talking to him,” Borghi said of Lindsay, with whom he’d been working out at Landow Performance, waiting for the phone to buzz. “Even before I ended up in Indianapolis (after the draft), and he told me just kind of how it went and his role.”
Borghi signed a free-agent deal with the Colts this past April 30. In a slice of cold irony only the NFL could serve, Indianapolis turned right around on May 18 and waived Borghi in order to sign Lindsay to a contract instead. In pro football, whenever jobs are on the line, friendship only goes so far.
“That’s the game. That’s the business,” the younger Borghi shrugged Thursday. “We’ve stayed close. And we talk. And he definitely gave me a lot of pointers on how to stick and what to do.”
The short answer? Do whatever’s asked. Eagerly.
The Broncos need fast, willing hitters on special teams — Borghi reportedly posted a 4.47 time in the 40-yard dash at his pro day last April — and cannon fodder at tailback to handle carries during the preseason while the first-team timeshare of Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon rest their legs.
“He’s a real smart guy, busted his (backside),” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said of Borghi. “And that’s what you need. And so just that mindset that he’s gotten, he’s got to kind of pick it all up, because he only had a day or two (with the playbook).”
Laymen have often likened Borghi’s skill set to that of ex-Valor standout Christian McCaffrey, a versatile weapon who can line up anywhere on the field. Which, at Washington State, he pretty much did, finishing his collegiate tenure with 369 carries and 156 receptions for the pass-happy Cougars.
“I (want to) show them,” the younger Borghi said, “I can do it all.”
And heck, he already knows how to tear it up at Empower Field. The last time Borghi suited up on Stadium Circle was in December 2017, in the CHSAA Class 5A state title game. Borghi raced for 247 yards on 31 carries that day, scoring three touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a 56-49 win over Eaglecrest.
“It’s pretty crazy. I was just thinking about the touchdown(s) I scored there,” the younger Borghi said. “And I’m just picturing myself getting an opportunity to hopefully go out there and score another touchdown in front of a full stadium, (instead) of sort of a little half-full high school (crowd of) fans. It’d be cool.”
And cooler still for Steve, even though he now needs to figure out a way to get a hold of at least 50 tickets for the Broncos’ preseason opener next Saturday night against the Dallas Cowboys. Seats on the secondary market, via VividSeats.com, were starting at $37 a pop as of late Thursday afternoon.
“It just happened so quick,” Steve laughed. “Both my wife (Julie) and I, we can’t believe what’s going on. We just want him to go out there and kill it.”
Even if it puts a dent in dad’s bank account along the way.