I've written about the Broncos, but never at great length. I feel a strong connection to the team. Since 1977, my senior year in high school, which was also the year they went to the Super Bowl for the first time, and lost to the Dallas Cowboys. (And I seem to recall a certain sibling of mine, who was rooting for Dallas, and was banished to watch the game in my parent's bedroom). They lost, but I was hooked. On football in general, and the Broncos in particular. I'm sure it helped that I was the Varsity Football Manager at my high school...............Go Buffs! I learned that Football is a complicated, strategic, fascinating game.
Few in Denver were happy when John Elway showed up, he was not instantly beloved. The local press was pretty tough on him and he got off to a very rocky start. I was not a believer..............but over time...............I believed. John carried the team on his shoulders. The Drive.............all of that.
Then came the Super Bowl losses. Three of them. Brutal. Almost gave up hope.
Then Reeves was out, Shanahan was in. And everything changed. The Mastermind turned the Broncos into The Machine, and I dared to believe. All Bronco fans did.
Coincidentally, at the same time I was working for a local food bank, and ended up working with the Bronco Wives and the Broncos Charity Fund on food drives at the stadium. I was asked to speak at a Bronco Wives potluck, to inspire the wives about the work they were doing. And I tried to act like it wasn't a big deal that the potluck took place at John Elway's house. That was the same year I watched a game in the press box, the next year from the stadium announcer's box. I was living in Bronco heaven.
Those back to back Super Bowl wins were among the best memories I've ever had. I was living alone in a small apartment, and often watched the games alone, but the phone calls flew back and forth with my Dad and lil' bro. Ahhhhhhhhhh. Those were the days.
Always knew those years would be tough to top............
Since those heady times, it seems we Bronco fans have survived one disappointment after another. Who would fill John Elway's shoes? Surely Brian Griese had the pedigree to fill the spot. But no.........And on and on it continued with seasons of disappointment.
McDaniels came in and it all seemed like a new era. Got off to a great start, then it all fell apart again. But Josh left us with a little take out box.
I must admit ignorance. I don't follow college football. Never heard of Tim Tebow. Florida? Miles away. When Focus on the Family ran it's controversial Super Bowl ad.............that was the first time Tim showed up on my radar. Didn't understand how controversial it was that McDaniels drafted him. I was out of touch with the Broncos.
I had stopped watching. Yep, gave up watching the games, ignored the seasons, thinking all the magic was gone.
But 2011 was one of those pivotal years. And I decided to give the Broncos a chance. I missed football, I missed that feeling of joy, intensity and fun. So I started paying attention again.
New coach, new start. John Elway back in the mix.
The beginning of the season? Nothing but frustration. Kyle Orton? God Bless him. But a complete lack of ............what? A lack of emotion, lack of enthusiasm, lack of leadership.............and there stood Tim on the sidelines.
And then they begrudgingly gave Tim his chance.
Here we are after the dust has settled. Still winded from the ride. The ups, and the downs. The controversy, the screaming fans, the pundits. Denver Broncos 2011.
For the first time in years, I felt that old feeling. On so many levels. Maybe we could find our way back to a place where Sundays were fun and we were filled with joy, or at the very least a few hours of distraction. Excitement, that collective sense of purpose.
A friend invited me and I sat in the south stands of Mile High. For the first of what turned out to be two games against the Patriots. If you Denver dwellers remember, that was an amazing Colorado day. So warm, I didn't need to put my coat on till the fourth quarter. Felt more like a September day. The feeling in that stadium was hard to explain. The electricity, anticipation, joy.
I felt it in 2011. For the first time in..............well it seems like forever. And that day, though the Broncos lost, as I filed out of the stadium with thousands of other Bronco faithfuls......I was happy. And I remembered what it felt like to have those good things in life. Those intangibles. That undefinable thing that sport brings us.
Tim led us on fantastic journey. A journey of rooting for the good guy. The whole world watched as a fine young man, made us all feel younger, hopeful, jubilant. Against all odds, and against the pundits, Tim triumphed. And gave us those moments of distraction, excitement, and a little joy, followed by defeat and sadness, The full range of human emotion.
Who knows what the future holds? There are as many opinions as there are people.
I, for one, will never forget this season. I want to hang on to what this season meant to me. A return to my love for football. A return to the fun that hoping your team will win, brings. Win or lose, I am a Bronco fan once more...................
And I credit Tim Tebow for that. Good job, Tim.
You make me smile.