A year ago, at the end of Shiloh Keo’s fourth NFL season, he and his wife Keanna discussed where they wanted to establish roots and raise their two sons.
For Keanna, a graduate of Centennial High in Boise, there really was only one place in her mind.
“I really wanted it to be Boise,” she said. “I kind of really started to appreciate it more when I was away, and to have my family around, I made sure I let him know.”
It didn’t take much convincing for Shiloh, either, even though it wasn’t his favorite place when he played college football for the Idaho Vandals from 2006 to 2010. When he rehabbed an injury this fall, Shiloh laughed and said “unfortunately” it was at Boise State, where the blue turf was an everyday sight.
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“I’ve learned to love (the Boise area),” he said. “It’s a beautiful place, great place to have our family, be near Keanna’s relatives. There’s plenty of Vandals around, too, which is good for me.”
Keanna and their boys — Kruz, 4, and Kingston, 18 months) — flew to California on Thursday with her parents and sister, where Shiloh and the Denver Broncos are preparing for Super Bowl 50 and the Carolina Panthers. Keanna, her parents and Shiloh’s parents will attend the game in Santa Clara, while her sister will watch the boys in Eagle.
Shiloh, a hard-hitting safety, joined the Broncos on Dec. 9 as a free agent. He was released by the Cincinnati Bengals in the last round of cuts days before the regular season began and was injured during a tryout with the New York Giants the next week. After missing all of last season with an injury, too, the family began discussing what may lie beyond football.
“It wasn’t just hard on me, it was hard on them, but I knew I had some years left. I just needed another chance,” Shiloh said.
He got that opportunity in an unconventional way, and with a little help from Keanna.
On Dec. 1, Shiloh sent a tweet to Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, wondering why the Broncos had signed a different free agent safety. Phillips, who was Houston’s defensive coordinator when the Texans drafted Shiloh in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, responded, noting how much he thinks of Shiloh. A week later, the Broncos signed him.
“He’d been so down, being hurt last year and had done so well with the Bengals, but got let go, I knew if I wasn’t working, I’d call everyone I knew,” Keanna said. “I figured it wouldn’t hurt to just let the coaches he knew that he was ready.”
Though Shiloh thinks the Twitter story is a little overblown — “I wasn’t just some guy off the street, they knew me” — it was a look into his nature, to keep finding a way to succeed.
“It’s just his personality, when he wants it, he’s going to go for it, even when everybody else is like ‘there’s no way, let it go,’” Keanna said.
Shiloh also found the right match in Keanna, whom he met in Moscow while she was on the Vandals’ dance team and an active Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority member.
“She had a major role in this,” Shiloh said. “We’d get up every Sunday, go to church, then she’d watch games with me. She’d keep an eye on the injury list, see if a team needed a safety and really encouraged me to reach out however I could.”
In the offseason, Shiloh trained with local pros like Kellen Moore (Cowboys), Mike Iupati (Cardinals) and Aaron Lavarias (CFL’s Montreal Alouettes). That kept him busy, while the NFL has kept him away from home. But with Keanna’s family close, it has made a big difference.
“We were praying they’d want to move here,” said Doug Moy, Keanna’s father. “Having the boys close, we’re always happy to help.”
Try as Keanna might, however, there’s not much keeping Kruz and Kingston away from football. The pair happily toss the ball, tackle each other and rock Broncos hats (though Kruz says his favorite team is simply “daddy’s”). With Keanna expecting the couple’s third child, perhaps it will be the artist in the family.
“I’ll say, ‘Hey, let’s paint,’ or give them a basketball, but they go right for the football,” Keanna said.
That’s Shiloh’s nature, too, and he’s been made an impact with the Broncos in the postseason. He had an interception Jan. 3 against the Chargers in the fourth quarter to lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and recovered the Patriots’ onside kick in the AFC championship game to end their comeback threat.
“All I wanted was to contribute to the team’s success, because I’d spent too much time away,” Shiloh said. “You never know what is coming next, so you have to enjoy it, and I’m having a blast.”
Idaho connections to Super Bowl 50
▪ Shiloh Keo (Idaho, Eagle resident), No. 33: Backup safety and special teams player for Denver Broncos.
▪ Matt Paradis (Boise State, Council High), No. 61: Starting center for Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. Paradis is the sixth Boise State player to appear in a Super Bowl since 2005, story at IdahoStatesman .com/Sports
▪ Jared Allen (Idaho State), No. 69: Starting defensive end for the Carolina Panthers.
▪ Joe Kenn (Boise State): Former BSU strength coach is the head strength/conditioning coach for Carolina.
NFL fines Keo
Denver safety Shiloh Keo has been fined $23,152 for his actions in the Broncos’ victory over the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game, the league announced Saturday.
Keo was punished for a hit on a defenseless receiver.
The NFL also fined teammates Von Miller and T.J. Ward $23,152 each for their actions in the same game. Each player’s fine is worth about half his AFC title game bonus paycheck.