NEW YORK — Denver left guard Zane Beadles says the presence of right guard Louis Vasquez in his first year with the Broncos has been unmistakable.
“He’s probably the biggest human I’ve ever seen in my life,’’ Beadles said, “and eats the most I’ve ever seen of anybody in my life.’’
And on the football field?
Well, Vasquez has made a large impact there, too, as the only other Bronco offensive player besides record-setting quarterback Peyton Manning chosen for the Pro Bowl.
Sunday, though, comes a much bigger game for Vasquez, a fifth-year veteran from Texas Tech, as he’ll try to keep Manning upright against the top defense in the NFL when the Broncos face the rugged defense of the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
“To finally be here, it’s definitely a dream come true,’’ said the 6-foot, 4-inch, 335-pounder who played at Corsicana. “I’m enjoying every moment of it.”
Vasquez, though, knew a deep playoff run might be in the offing when he signed with the Broncos in the off-season after four standout years with the San Diego Chargers, agreeing to a four-year deal that could pay him as much as $23.5 million and includes $13 million guaranteed.
“It was a business decision,’’ Vasquez said. “When I hit free agency, I had a chance to talk to the older guys (on the Chargers); (Nick) Hardwick, (Kris) Dielman, Philip Rivers. ... From the numerous teammates I asked at the time, they said do what’s best for you. They get the business side of it. Unfortunately I had to leave my friends from back there, but the reason why we play this game is to be here where we’re at, to have the chance to win the Super Bowl. That’s what they all wished me, and I’m just extremely happy I’m here.”
The Broncos, likewise, say Vasquez gave the team what it wanted in providing a fairly immovable force in the middle of the offensive line.
According to Pro Football Focus, Vasquez was one of just two of the 38 guards who played at least 900 snaps this season who did not allow a sack, the other being Detroit’s Larry Warford.
Vasquez says it helped his transition from San Diego to Denver that he now plays alongside center Manny Ramirez, his teammate for two years at Texas Tech.
“We call each other brothers,’’ Vasquez said. “We played with each other two years at Texas Tech. Once I got here, he was one of the first teammates I called. I was like, ‘Hey, we’re teammates again.’ We kind of picked back up where we left off in college, and he made my transition that much easier from San Diego to Denver.”
Denver coach John Fox says the chemistry between Vasquez and Ramirez is apparent.
“They both have been tremendous,’’ Fox said. “Louis, he’s new to us. This is his first year, and he’s done a tremendous job to learn the offense, learn his new teammates. It’s a very tight knit group, and both those guys played their college ball at Texas Tech, and there’s a special bond there for sure. They’re very close friends, as well as teammates. But I couldn’t be happier for and proud of any two individuals with how hard they’ve worked, and how well they played.”
The two are also bonded by their Hispanic heritage, and Vasquez hopes that playing on the NFL’s biggest stage might inspire more Hispanics to take up football.
“It’s awesome to know that we have such a large group, especially the youth out there watching us,’’ he said. “Hopefully it opens their eyes to say anything is possible, no matter what it is .... To have everybody like you watching this Sunday, it’s an amazing feeling.”