How Colorado’s Deion Sanders picked the 98-year-old to start the spring game

Boulder, Colorado. Peggy Cobbum is 98 years old.

She is arguably Colorado’s best known fan, but she is also quick to apologize for her deteriorating eyesight and hearing. So she had to make sure she heard right when Colorado athletic director Rick George told her in late January that she’d have a guest host the next day: Deion Sanders.

“Tomorrow you will bring him?!” I asked Prime Coach.

George said yes. Coppom used to make root beer floats when George visited them in the past, but on this winter’s day, it was cold. So I suggest they pass on the ice cream for the morning visit.

Colorado’s new football coach only drinks Pepsi anyway. Cobum ate less of it, and baked cinnamon rolls instead. And we put a tray of delicious pecan candy.

George and Sanders arrived as planned, and George allowed them to get to know each other as Cobum, anything but shy, helped educate Sanders on the history of the program. They sat together at the dining room table, which was topped with a pink Kuboom tablecloth.

“She’s just a breath of fresh air. She breathes life into everyone who approaches her. It’s just unbelievable,” Sanders said Saturday, months after first meeting and hours after surprising Cobum with a ceremonial honor at a spring game in Colorado.

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Cobbum moved to Boulder in 1940 after growing up in Haxton, Colorado, a small town in the state’s northeastern plains. Along with her twin sister Betty Hoover, who died in 2020, they gained local fame as the “CU Twins” who attended plenty of Colorado sporting events and, as a point of their pride, refused to leave early.

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So, with 80 years of Buffaloes fandom alongside her sister and her late husband, who was an airline pilot, she had plenty of stories for Sanders. Coach passed the cinnamon roll but downed the Pepsi as expected and she started an affair with the delicious pecans she put on.

“It was glazed or caramelized or something,” Sanders said. “I was just killing those things.”

After their meeting, Cobum sent Sanders a briefcase.

As their time together drew closer, Sanders grabbed her hand and hugged her.

“I thought it would lift me off the ground,” Cobum said.

But before he left, Sanders received a request. Will she be ready to go out on the court with him at the spring game in three months?

I said, “Okay. But I am 98 years old. Cobum said. I said okay and then I thought, ‘Oh, he’ll forget this. He has 100 children to take care of there. But he did not forget her.

Anything but.

Sanders brought Cobum onto the field for Saturday’s snow-packed spring game. Before that, she was meeting a bunch of Colorado greats on the field.

(Courtesy of Sean Cobum)

“I was really happy to see them and get hugs from them. They had to tell me who they were when they said hi, because seeing me isn’t great,” Cobum said. “But they’ve all changed so much since they were here, I’m not sure I could recognize them anyway .”

They all pose for a photo with Kuboom on the field as well.

Sanders came and got it as players started coming onto the field for the opening kick, and cameras swarmed the duo. Sanders walked it from the 20-yard line to the 30th, and Cobum got curious.

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“where are we going?” she asked.

Tell her she will start the match with the start of the match.

Cobum said, “I said, WHAT!?” the athlete at her house after the game, where she also produced some of her famous pecans. “I prayed to Jesus, ‘Help me get through this. Help me get through this. My balance is not good anymore. My eyes are no longer good. Nothing good but my mouth.”

Cobum picked up speed as she approached the ball and caught Sanders’ arm to keep her balance as she put it in the air a few feet down the court to applause from the crowd.

“Peggy ball.” Peggy was the MVP of the game. It was fast. Her first step was incredible. “She was very physical when she grabbed me to make sure I grabbed her arm,” Sanders said. “She made a big play. Her start was exceptional. She went through the uprisings and everything.”

Cobum added, “I’m glad I got through it and didn’t fall.”

Cobum made her way to her seats in the Flatiron Club upstairs and, like every other gamer, refused to leave early, even though the game was a snow fair.

Colorado grabbed attention this weekend when ESPN opted to air the spring game, but when it got under way, viewers saw the 98-year-old superfan begin the Coach Prime era.

“There’s never been this much excitement about any CU sport like this,” Cobbum said, adding that she hopes the Buffaloes can play ball this year after going 1-11 last season. “I can’t believe one man has brought us so much attention.”

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For a moment, Sanders made sure to direct some of that attention toward Colorado’s most loyal fans.

“She was thankful and appreciative,” Sanders said. “She was really. She’s funny. I mean, the little quick comments she might have in there? Unbelievable. I’m sure they picked it up on my mic. But it’s fun, man. It’s good. I hope to God—I just want to get this far and be I get the same smile, energy and love, just for life, as you do.”

(Photo by Deion Sanders and Peggy Cobum: Ron Chinoy/USA Today)

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