Denver’s disappointment dutiful to pattern
Before settling down to watch the Denver Broncos get their asses handed to them on Sunday, I took a short stroll down memory lane.I was flipping through some childhood photos with friends and came across a picture of myself as an orange-and-blue-faced 9-year-old. The photo was taken before going to Mile High Stadium to watch one of the two live Broncos games I’ve seen in my life.There I was, my hair matted with orange and blue hairspray, smiling through orange and blue lips, proudly wearing a bright orange “Orange Crush” T-shirt and about to embark on what was at the time probably the most momentous occasion of my life.I had at least three posters of John Elway adorning my bedroom, in addition to those of the Three Amigos (Mark Jackson, Vance Johnson and Ricky Nattiel), Rulon Jones and Karl Mecklenburg. I didn’t have a poster of Steve Watson out of respect for my brother, who idolized him to the extent of wearing his No. 81 jersey multiple times a week during the NFL season. In those days, I also had an occasional hobby of attempting to kick backyard field goals barefoot to be like Rich Karlis.
So yeah, you could say I was a fan.All just a little bit of history repeatingHaving done some research, Sunday’s 34-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers was eerily reminiscent of the AFC Championship game circa 1985, when Denver went down to the Steelers, 17-10, at home, with the same 13-3 record going into the game.The following year, Denver made it to the SuperBowl only to lose sadly to the New York Giants. In 1988, it was a SuperBowl loss to the Redskins. By 1990, the Broncos managed to beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship but fell to the San Francisco 49ers in the SuperBowl.
I’m really not sure when my interest in my Denver team started to wane. I wasn’t consciously aware of several seasons of accrued disappointment taking its toll, weakening the force of my fixation and loyalty, but now that I look back, that’s very well what could have happened. Or maybe it was just the vacuum of my teenage years breaking in and reprioritizing my obsessions. I’m not really sure. At any rate, I stopped following the Broncos. While my brother remained an avid fan, I was, at best, vaguely aware of the major running backs and receivers and Elway’s alleged infidelities. Once I hit my university years, I was studying abroad in 1998 when the Broncos made it to the SuperBowl once again to face the Green Bay Packers. In the interest of hometown and home-country loyalty, I talked several of my British friends into watching the game at some shady bar at around 3 a.m. While the Brits couldn’t fathom why a game would stop so often, or why athletes in a field sport would wear so much body armor, I was nonetheless joyful when the Broncos pulled off a victory.You lose some, you lose some
Then Elway retired. And, to be honest, the team subsequently sucked pretty bad. My interest waned more and more, to the point that the first full game I’ve watched in eight years was Sunday’s nightmare. In the 1980s, I could have won any manner of trivia about the Denver Broncos and made a point to watch every minute of every game. Now, the fact that I know the names of any of the team stars can be attributed to the fact that I’m a sports writer and am thus forced to read NFL caps every weekend. This season, however, I started lifting an eyebrow. I started watching game highlights and feeling possessed by a dusty sense of pride for the old boys. I even started defending the Broncos when Chris Freud would launch into one of his regular rounds of Colorado team bashing. I felt downright giddy when I sat down to watch the game Sunday. While my hope had already been summarily callused by the Broncos’ flop sequence, I was still, like numerous sports writers and forecasters who named the Broncos favorites in this year’s SuperBowl, embarrassed. Really embarrassed. How can a team rock the house all season and then transform into a pack of amateurs in the championship game? I’m not usually one to kick someone when they’re down, but Denver … geez. Thank God I’m not a real fan. Anymore.Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext.14632, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado