Floyd Little often sees fans celebrating after mind-altering, brain-rattling football hits.
He has a different reaction.
"Those kind of things should bring tears to your eyes," he said.
He's talking about everyone's eyes. He waits for the day when ridicule rains down on defenders who deliver wicked attacks on ball carriers.
Little, 68, led the transformation of the Denver Broncos, turning a faltering franchise in danger of moving to Birmingham, Ala., into the state's Sunday obsession. He earned induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010 in recognition for his 1967-1975 career as a Broncos halfback.
He has a wide collection of football memories, most of them sweet. He enjoys watching, in his mind's eye, all the touchdowns and the victories and the fun.
But sometimes horror shows invade his mind. He remembers the hits, most against the rules and defiant of the game's spirit, that left his mind a hazy mess.
The most disturbing horror show is from Nov. 10, 1974, when the Broncos traveled to Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, sometimes known as "The World's Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum."
Little, nearing the end of his career, was carrying the ball toward the sideline and moving rapidly when he saw Colts linebacker Mike Curtis closing in.
As Little stepped out of bounds he relaxed ever so slightly. He had departed the violent playing field. He was safe.
Or so he thought.
Curtis caught Little on the side of his head with forearm smash, using a vicious tackling technique known as the "clothesline." Little crashed to the grass, his head exploding with pain.
He remembers, barely, collapsing in the shower after the game. He collapsed again on the team plane. He awoke on the flight, looked up and saw frightened teammate Lyle Alzado gazing at him with grave concern.
The hit infuriated Little in 1974. The hit still infuriates him in 2011.
"He saw me running out of bounds!" Little said, his voice rising, the anger still raging decades after the hit. "Why did he do that? Why did he hit me?"
The hit left him in great pain in 1974. The hit still drains him in 2011. Little estimates he suffered five major concussions during his football career.
A concussion, Little emphasizes, is a lifelong injury. The effects of a big hit follow an athlete for decades.
Little retired 36 years ago, but he's reminded of his football career nearly every day. He searches for lost keys and finds them in his refrigerator. Why did he place them there? He has no idea.
He loses his place in the middle of phone conversations, forgetting the subject of conversation, sometimes even forgetting whom he's talking with.
He understands football is a violent game. He knew, even as he battled for yardage on off-tackle plays, he was placing his body in jeopardy.
But he is baffled, and angered, by how much fans enjoy dangerous, illegal hits. He sees a player flat on his back, his helmet knocked loose, his mind scattered.
And Little, even as his eyes fill with tears, hears fans rejoicing.
"People are cheering for that?" Little said. "There's no place for it. That's not football. You hit somebody illegally, you're hurting him for life."
A line, Little believes, must be drawn. He enthusiastically supports the NFL's new emphasis on protecting players. He listens to fans howling with disapproval after officials throw a flag for a blow to the head. He just smiles.
He knows better. He understands a brain is precious, and fragile.