Over the course of the last 27 years, Michael Westbrook estimates he has told the story about The Miracle in Michigan “literally 14 million times.”
Now, the Colorado legend had a new story to tell.
On Tuesday night, Westbrook was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame during the 63rd annual National Football Foundation awards dinner in Las Vegas.
A receiver with the Buffaloes from 1991-94, Westbrook is the eighth player in CU history to earn induction to the College Football Hall of Fame, along with legendary coach Bill McCartney.
Westbrook was technically a part of the 2020 Hall of Fame class, but that ceremony was postponed last year because of COVID-19. The 2020 and 2021 classes were both inducted on Tuesday.
During an interview with the NFF on Tuesday, Westbrook marveled at the odds, as only about 0.02% of players in college football history are in the Hall of Fame.
“To wrap your head around that small number, it’s kind of been like a fairy tale,” Westbrook said. “Coming from where I came from and then putting in the work; early at the University of Colorado, having difficulties my first one or two years, I would never have expected myself (to be in the hall of fame).”
Westbrook joins linebacker Alfred Williams (1987-90) as the only CU players from the last 50 years to be in the Hall of Fame.
“Two out of 50 years … it’s a blessing,” he said.
Bobby Anderson (1967-69), Dick Anderson (1965-67), Herb Orvis (1969-71), Joe Romig (1959-61), Byron White (1935-37) and John Wooten (1956-58) are the other Buffs enshrined.
A 6-foot-4, 210-pound receiver, Westbrook was a two-time first-team All-American and finished his CU career with 167 catches for 2,548 yards and 19 touchdowns.
He is best known for his game-winning catch at Michigan on Sept. 24, 1994. On the final play of the game, he hauled in a 64-yard Hail Mary pass from Kordell Stewart to lift the No. 7 Buffaloes to a 27-26 stunning upset of No. 4 Michigan.
“In 1994, we had this thing, never give up,” Westbrook said during a Hall of Fame press conference on Tuesday. “We understood one thing: Never give up. It didn’t seem like we would lose the game. It didn’t seem like we could lose it at all.”
That didn’t lose that day and lost just once that season, as Westbrook helped the Buffs go 11-1 and finish No. 3 in the final rankings. During his four seasons in Boulder, CU went 36-9-3, including 15-1 in the last 16 games.
Westbrook went on to become the No. 4 overall selection in the 1995 NFL Draft by Washington. During his eight-year NFL career (seven with Washington, one with Cincinnati), he played in 89 games and caught 285 passes for 4,374 yards and 26 touchdowns.
To this day, he is still grateful for McCartney bringing him to CU.
Westbrook was a lightly recruited player at Chadsey High School in Detroit and McCartney showed up one day to recruit another player.
“I wasn’t on a lot of schools’ radar,” Westbrook said during his NFF interview.
When McCartney showed up, Westbrook, who also a track and field standout, was in the gym playing basketball.
“I was just putting on a dunk show because everybody always loved seeing me dunk the basketball,” he said.
McCartney asked about Westbrook and called him over.
“He’s never seen any film, calls me over there and was like, ‘We want to offer you a full scholarship. Do you want to take a trip to Colorado in a couple of weeks?’” Westbrook said.
While at CU, assistant coach Les Steckel took over the discipline aspect, helping Westbrook straighten up. Together, McCartney and Steckel helped Westbrook become a star.
“(Steckel) put me on a path that led me to all my success,” Westbrook said. “Bill McCartney was the guy who put everything in place for it, and then Les Steckel was the catalyst for me to be successful.”
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