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‘Bronco Reaper’ survives 6 heart attacks, near-death experience from mosquito bite; nominated to NFL Ford Hall of Fans

Denver Broncos

DENVER (KDVR) — If you’ve been to a Denver Broncos game, there’s a good chance you’ve crossed paths with a fan who has been dubbed the “Bronco Reaper.”

His name is Jesse Esquibel and he was just nominated by Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinee Steve Atwater to the Ford Hall of Fans.

Esquibel said he had no clue he was getting nominated. He thought he was getting interviewed for being a super fan.

Instead, he showed up to Mile High and Atwater popped up on the Jumbotron telling him he was nominated to the 2022 Ford Hall of Fans.

“It took me honestly a couple days to take it all in. Initially, I was pretty shocked by it. They did definitely get me. I did not expect that whatsoever. It was completely off guard. It took me a couple days to absorb it after watching the video about a thousand times,” Esquibel said.

Esquibel is a third-generation Broncos fan, and after surviving life-threatening complications from getting West Nile encephalitis in 2003 after getting a mosquito bite, he became the “Bronco Reaper.”

The West Nile encephalitis went to his brain and started causing seizures. Three years later, Esquibel had brain surgery. After that, he was diagnosed with another rare disease and put on life support. He fought that for another year and ended up having a heart attack.

He survived all of that and then in 2020, while everyone else was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Esquibel had six heart attacks.

Through it all, he’s maintained a positive attitude.

“My message is really that if you have a strong, positive attitude and with the willingness to not ever give up, you can overcome anything,” Esquibel said. “Being the reaper, most people are afraid of death, I’ve learned that they die mentally first before they physically die. If we can die mentally strong, at least we die happy.”

On game days, Esquibel said he walks 15,000 steps throughout the stadium and takes pictures with fans.

“It gives me life to know I can make a fan’s experience better just by dressing up and going to a game,” Esquibel said.

Esquibel is also active in the community. He’s on the PTO board at his son’s school and volunteers 15 hours each week in his classroom, and he’s also vice president of a nonprofit organization for the Parker Police Department.

Away from the gridiron, the 39-year-old often dons his full “Bronco Reaper” attire to visit children and elderly people in the hospital in hopes of brightening their day.

The Ford Hall of Fans is a program entering its fourth season and recognizes some of the most passionate and electrifying NFL enthusiasts across the country. In 2020, Denver Broncos superfan Rob Garner was inducted into the Ford Hall of Fans. He has been offering his support and encouragement to Esquibel since he learned he was nominated.

“We have to get another superfan into the Hall of Fans. Together, we can do this,” Esquibel said. “Thank you for all of your votes, I definitely appreciate it.”

You can vote here for Esquibel. Voting is open through Feb. 6. Winners will be notified in Los Angeles during Super Bowl week and then honored at the Pro Football Hall of Fame during 2022 enshrinement week in Canton, Ohio.

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