One of the most recognizable fans in the NFL over the last three decades died this morning in his sleep.
Tim McKernan, better known to Denver Broncos fans and the nation as the Barrel Man, died of lung failure at his home in suburban Denver. He was 69.
McKernan began wearing a barrel, cowboy hat and little else to Broncos games in 1977 after a bet with his brother. The former United Airlines mechanic made a $10 bet that he could get on TV if he wore a barrel to the game. Guess what? He won the bet.
He quickly became a fan favorite and missed only four games from 1967 until this season. McKernan retired the barrel during 2007 as health issues caught up with him.
“He liked the attention, he loved inspiring the fans and had a take-charge attitude,” Tim’s son, Todd McKernan, told the Denver Post.
“My kids grew up knowing grandpa in the barrel,” he added.
One of the barrels McKernan used has been displayed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The barrel he wore to Super Bowl XXXII, which was autographed by 49 players, was sold at auction for $30,000. McKernan took a portion of the money and donated it to a battered women’s shelter.
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