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Peyton Manning's quiet tribute to young Broncos fan who died too soon

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Peyton Manning quietly honored a young Broncos fan who died.
Peyton Manning honored a young Broncos fan who died in June. (via DenverBroncos.com)

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During training camp, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was taking snaps, wearing his usual preseason attire. With one exception: his towel had the name "Chris Crowson" on it.

Turns out Manning was paying a silent tribute to a young Broncos fan who died earlier in the summer. Chris Crowson was born on June 26, 1985 in Denver before his family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he lived most of his life before it tragically ended too early during "unforeseen complications during surgery" in June.

Peyton's tribute was spotted on Reddit but not actually explained until Chris' father, Dan Crowson, joined "The David Glenn Show" in Raleigh last week to tell how Manning's tribute came to pass.

"As I understand it, [Chris' uncle in Denver] wrote a letter to Peyton to let him know Chris' love for the Broncos and respect for Peyton and what he was bringing to the Broncos," Dan said. "The way I found out was an email from the uncle in Colorado. He didn't know anything was going to happen.

"And then he got a package from Peyton with the towel with Chris' name on it, signed, with a picture of Peyton holding it."

How big a Broncos fan was Chris? His obituary describes him as "a goofy teddy bear with a heart of gold" but, more than anything, a huge Broncos fan.

"He loved almost every sport, but his true passion was the Denver Broncos, a handed down tradition for three generations," the obituary reads.

Chris was such a big Broncos fan the family encourage people to wear their favorite NFL jersey to his visitation ... as long as it wasn't a Seahawks jersey.

"In honor of Chris' love for the Denver Broncos, the dress is casual and you're encouraged to wear your most favorite professional football team jersey or team colors as long as it's not the Seattle Seahawks (yea, we're sore losers…)," the obituary reads.

Dan said the number of people who inquired about Chris -- either via email or just coming by -- blew the family away.

"We're just amazed at the number of people who are responding to us via email, that come to the house," Dan said. "Our house is open to the friends of Chris. And it's just one big, happy family … saddened by the event that happened. But this also gives us another very fond, fond memory. At times like this you want to make sure you surround yourself with every positive influence you can."

Almost as much as the tribute from Manning.

"I don't know that he will ever hear this but I have to thank Peyton Manning," Dan said. "Because he has given us an absolutely wonderful memory."

A close up of Peyton Manning's towel.
A close up of Peyton Manning's towel. (Via DenverBroncos.com)

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