Woody Paige August 3, 2011; Englewood, CO, USA; Woody Paige sports columnist for the Denver Post on the sidelines during training camp drills at the Broncos training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Woody Paige, known to sports fans nationwide for his thousands of appearances on ESPN’s Around the Horn, garnered a considerable honor Wednesday night.

Paige was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. It’s an honor that many felt was long overdue for the 77-year-old sportswriter, who has covered many considerable developments in Denver sports in the past half-century.

The Denver Broncos have won three Super Bowls. The city landed an expansion MLB franchise, and the Colorado Rockies are now in their fourth decade. The Denver Nuggets have gone from an ABA power to winning their first NBA championship last year. And the Colorado Avalanche have won three Stanley Cups.

Paige has been there to write about it all, beginning with the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News in 1974. He joined The Denver Post as a columnist in 1981, then moved to The Gazette in Colorado Springs in 2016, before going to The Denver Gazette more recently.

Former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan is a longtime admirer of Paige.

“I always considered him a guy that, if you’re going to get the top story, it’s coming from Woody,” Shanahan told The Denver Gazette. Whether it was the Broncos or the Avalanche, I don’t care what sport it was; Woody was the center of every top article.”

Not all Denver sports coaches have been so complimentary. Paige recalls that when he first arrived in Denver, he wrote a negative story about the struggling Broncos, and then-head coach John Ralston berated him.

“The Broncos had been bad for so long, and I wrote, ‘I hate to tell you people, (but) your team stinks,'” Paige said. “So I get a call from John Ralston’s PR guy, saying the coach wants to see you in his office. … Ralston says to me, ‘Son, get a haircut and don’t write negative things. We don’t write negative things in Denver.’ I said, ‘It’s not going to be like that anymore,’ and I don’t know if he ever talked to me again.”

John Elway said he didn’t always agree with Paige.

“Woody had a great career, and I always enjoyed talking with Woody,” Elway said (via Chris Tomasson). “Although I didn’t always agree with Woody’s opinions, he was mostly fair at all times.”

Paige became a larger-than-life figure in many ways and had plenty of adventures to share. He grew up in the same housing project as Elvis Presley and watched as the young singer learned his craft.

“I was 4 or 5, and I would listen to him play his guitar and sing on the front porch,” Paige told The Gazette. “We became lifelong friends because I was his first fan.”

Paige also claims to have played blackjack with Michael Jordan, drank with Jimmy Buffett (beers, not margaritas), and he had a role in the 2006 movie Rocky Balboa.

As Paige’s reputation grew, so did his opportunities. When ESPN launched Around the Horn in 2002, Paige got a call.

“They said, ‘You’ll be a national TV star,'” Paige recounted to The Gazette. “I said, ‘I don’t care about being a national TV star.’ I was 54 or something, and I just wanted to do my job. … But then they told me what it would pay, and I said, ‘Where do I show up?'”

Paige has appeared in more than 3,000 ATH episodes since then, more than anyone else. He’s been surprised by the recognition that came with his TV role.

“This is a whole new world for me,” Paige said. “I’ll hear from people, ‘We love you on TV.’ But I would just say you can’t go to bed thinking about that. I would be a miserable person if I did that. … I’m just trying to have fun on TV. I’m trying to bring a sense of humor that maybe sports isn’t too serious, and I’m kind of funny, and I have a blackboard.”


About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.