It’s the talk of the town, the state and the nation — The Denver Broncos are playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday.
It’s a good bet that the streets of Eagle and the aisles at the supermarket will be empty at kickoff time, but local bars will be doing booming business.
While their name specifies they come from Denver, the Broncos appeal stretches far beyond the team’s home town. It can be argued that some of the teams most die-hard team fans come from places outside of the city, where it takes a big commitment to travel to games and a concentrated effort to bedazzle your person, home or vehicle to reflect all things Broncos.
In that spirit, here’s a hats off to some of this valley’s biggest Broncos fans as they prepare for their team’s Super Bowl appearance:
Battle in the aisles
Super Bowl XLVIII is being played in New Jersey on Sunday, but a contest between the Broncos and the Seahawks is being battled at the Eagle City Market.
It’s not a very evenly contested match. On one side sits store manager Dave Betts and pretty much every other employee. On the other side sits Mario Lujan.
“Yeah, it’s me against the whole store. It feels like me against the whole world,” said Lujan.
“But I am a long-time Seahawks fan. I’m not one of those band wagon jumpers,” he declared. Lujan formerly lived in the Seattle area.
“Mario and I have gone around and around,” said Betts with a grin.
As the store employees break out their orange and blue jersey’s this week, they also wanted to pay tribute to the biggest Bronco fan in their ranks. Dean Duran, who passed away last year, was always decked out in Broncos wear on game day including a particularly distinctive pair of sneakers. On the wall above the self checkout area, the store has hung a poster-sized photo of Duran surrounded by Broncos logos and a sign declaring “Don’t be surprised if heaven’s a little louder this weekend.”
Making the game interesting
The Eagle County commissioners have a stake in the Super Bowl outcome — a bet with the county council from San Juan County, Wash.
This week Commissioner Jill Ryan received a call from Rick Hughes, a county councilman from San Juan County who lived in Vail some years ago. He suggested a wager and the Eagle County group jumped at the chance. The Eagle County group is putting up a selection of locally raised, grass-fed beef and local beer while the San Juan group is offering locally-caught salmon and locally-produced vodka. Additionally, the losers will have to wear jerseys from the winning team during a meeting day.
Ryan noted that when (not if) Eagle County wins the bet, the Washington gifts will be auctioned and the proceeds will be donated to the local food bank.
“I just wanted to say, in advance, thanks to San Juan County for some delicious salmon,” said Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry.
“My first, clear Broncos memory is the 1978 season,” said lifelong fan Lisa Proctor.
She was just 8 years old when the team went to its first Super Bowl. “My mom was the huge Broncos fan in our family.”
A Colorado native, Protor grew up in Denver. She referred to a recent statistic that shows since the team joined the league, it has been in the playoffs 20 percent of the time.
“As fans, we are pretty spoiled. The Broncos are pretty successful”
That said, she noted this year is something special. As a season ticket holder for four years, Proctor said this season has been one for the ages.
“The San Diego playoff game was the loudest I have ever heard at Mile High and then the next week against New England put that away,” said Proctor. “Plus, I have never seen so much orange.”
Those two games are among Proctor’s favorites at the stadium. But she also fondly remembers the trip she took to San Diego this fall to catch an away game when the Broncos staged an amazing comeback victory.
Like the popular Coors superstitions advertising campaign, Proctor has some special game day quirks. This year she has been wearing an orange and blue paracord bracelet and the same pair of orange underwear. “Of course I do wash them after I wear them,” she said with a laugh.
Proctor sports a Von Miller jersey at games and she will have it on when she watches the Super Bowl on television this Sunday. “We were very sad that we didn’t win the ticket holders lottery for Super Bowl tickets,” she said.
Her score prediction for the game is Denver 34, Seattle 28.
Turn right at the Broncos house…
Jeff and Susan Shreeve’s home in The Terrace subdivision is both a testament to their team and a local landmark with it huge Broncos logo prominently displayed across the garage door.
“Federal Express, UPS — they all know our house. People use it to give directions, you know, ‘turn left at the Broncos house,’” said Susan.
She said that back in the 1990s when the Broncos last played in the Super Bowl, her daughters were in middle school. Art teacher Susan Marsh let the Shreeve family borrow a projector that they used to outline the logo on the garage door. From there it was just a matter of painting it with the Broncos palette.
“I thought the homeowners association might say something about it, but no one has ever said a thing,” said Susan. As a result, the artwork has remained in place for the past 15 years.
“Jeff said he was going to paint over it because they weren’t doing too well, but he never did,” said Susan. So instead, she and her girls touched up the artwork last year. “And they made it to the playoffs,” she said.
“We are pretty excited about the Super Bowl. I have some more stuff to put out on the house, some orange and blue lights and some banners.”
Eagle resident Larry Arguello takes his Broncos devotion on the road.
When Colorado first offered Denver Broncos license plates, Arguello immediately signed up so he advertises his team spirit year round. But in the days leading up to a big game he adds other decorations including flags and magnets.
Arguello comes by his decorating duties honestly. “My mom used to decorate the house for all the big games,” said the Minturn native.
“It’s so exciting to get back to the Super Bowl,” said Arguello, who counts the teams first Super Bowl victory back in 1998 as his very favorite Broncos memory. But then he rattles several others including “The Drive” in Cleveland.
“I went to every home game but one this year. They are a fun team to watch,” said Arguello. During this winning season, Arguello said the old Mile High Magic returned to Denver.
He hasn’t yet decided where he will be Sunday — with friends in Eagle or with family in Denver. He believes the Broncos, behind spectacular play by Peyton Manning, will be the winners.
“Peyton deserves it and I just feel like they are the better team.”