Vail Summer Football Camp staff includes NFL, college coaches, Super Bowl winners |

Vail Summer Football Camp staff includes NFL, college coaches, Super Bowl winners

Tom Backhus has been bringing NFL and college to the Vail Summer Football Camp for three decades.
Randy Wyrick|

EDWARDS — You can’t throw a football around the Vail Summer Football Camp without a Super Bowl winner, an NFL coach or college coach helping you do it better, which is a pretty good reason to throw footballs.

Those coaches all have one thing, or one person, in common: Tom Backhus.

Backhus’ Vail Summer Football Camp came and went last week. They’re closing in on three decades of technique/no-pads training. The cost has not changed, and neither has the coaching. Backhus calls his old friends from his coaching years and they roll into town.

Cowboys/Bills Gailey met on Air Force staff

Former Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey met Backhus when they were both coaching with the Air Force Academy, Gailey the defensive coordinator and Backhus the offensive coordinator under head coach Ken Hatfield. They were next door neighbors and have kids about the same age.

“I do it for Tom. He’s such a great guy,” Gailey said.

Gailey was at one of the first Vail Summer Football camps in the 1980s, and remembers Battle Mountain star Jeff Campbell. Campbell later starred for the University of Colorado, did a stint in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos, and returned to the camp to coach a few times.

Gailey and Backhus stayed in touch as Gailey ascended to the NFL, but this is the first year the timing has worked for Gailey to coach at Backhus’ camp. That’s because he’s happily retired.

“I’m doing nothin’ and I’m very good at it. I stay busy all the time, but I’m not sure I accomplish anything. Every day is a Saturday, except for Sunday,” Gailey said.

Bears Brian Cabral Super Bowl Shuffling

Brian Cabral is very nice about letting you look at his Super Bowl ring, the one he won with the Chicago Bears in 1985 … actually Jan. 27, 1986, but the 1985 season.

The former Bears linebacker did not appear in the Super Bowl Shuffle commercial.

“I can’t sing and I can’t dance. It turned out that neither could they,” Cabral said, smiling.

You might not know that the Bears shot their Super Bowl Shuffle commercial in Week 7 of that year’s NFL season. He hung around for a couple hours, but finally had to leave for another appointment.

“We knew. We lost to the San Francisco 49ers the year before in the NFL championship game. In the locker room after that game, we knew. There was no denying us.”

He arrived in Chicago the year before Mike Ditka took over.

“We were bad, we were just awful, the Bad News Bears, and we still had Walter Payton,” Cabral said.

Ditka hired Buddy Ryan to run the defense; they drafted well, and before you know it William “Refrigerator” Perry was punching it into the end zone and the 46-10 pounding of the New England Patriots was on.

Cabral had to miss a day of this week’s camp to travel to Denver for the NFL’s concussion examinations, part of the lawsuit with the players.

“I think I’m OK,” he said grinning.

Cabral lives on the Front Range and also coaches at Arapahoe High School. It’s fun, and close to his grandchildren.

It’s football, and it reaches to these players’ and coaches’ very marrow.

“I like what Tom was trying to do for the kids, and for the coaches. There’s a reason these kids want to be here. They want to improve and understand the game,” Cabral said.

Fairchild helps start them right

And speaking of throwing footballs, Steve Fairchild runs Fairchild Quarterback Training. He’s a former NFL and major college quarterbacks and offensive coach, a Division 1 head coach with CSU and other schools, and trains quarterbacks all over the country. Kyle Sloter was one of his students. Sloter played his college ball as a UNC Bear, played with the Broncos and caught on with the Minnesota Vikings.

“If you can get kids this age and teach them the proper fundamentals, especially how to drop back and throw the ball, it really makes a difference,” Fairchild said.

Fairchild said he’s at the camp each year because Backhus does it for the right reasons.

“He’s not here for himself. He’s here to help these kids,” Fairchild said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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