Yesterday was euphoric.
For the first time in 15 years the Denver Broncos are returning to the Super Bowl after defeating an undermanned, but over achieving, New England Patriots team.
Growing up in Colorado from 1978 to 1987, I think Bronco fans of my generation became a bit spoiled by seeing our team in the big game. I moved to Denver the year after Craig Morton, ol’ Leadfoot, led the Orange Crush to Super Bowl VII only to fall to the hated Dallas Cowboys.
Then came the Elway years. Three appearances in four seasons between 1987 and 1990 all culminating in worse defeats than the previous year. Following the Super Bowl XXIV loss to the 49ers – which remains the largest point spread in an NFL title game – I swore I would never watch another Super Bowl with Denver in it until we won. Little did I know at the time that it would be eight years before Denver would make it back to the biggest game. With that many years in between – whatever oath I made was negated.
Of course, when we did make it back, we were going against the defending champions and heavily favored Green Bay Packers. We were double digit underdogs! This game stood to make SB XXIV look like a tight game. Yet somehow, someway, the Orange and Blue managed to win what to me remains the greatest football game ever played
The following year we were able to accomplish what the Favre-led Packers could not – going back-to-back by knocking off the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII.
Then Elway retired.
Quick trivia question for my Bronco friends – how many quarterbacks can you name off the top of your head in the years between Elway and Manning? I got seven, but we’ve actually had 10 quarterbacks start games for Denver in the 13 seasons between Elway and Manning.
In those 13 seasons we had 5 teams make playoff runs without much success – we were a combined 2-5 in the playoffs during that time including back to back first round losses to Manning’s Indianapolis Colts in 2003 and 2004.
From a team that went to the Super Bowl six times between 1978 and 1999, 15 years is a bit of a drought.
What is a fan to do? We do whatever we can! As Budweiser Light commercials have brilliantly captured, fan behavior is only weird if it doesn’t work.
It doesn’t hurt that the video above just happens to feature a Bronco fan!
We all have our little quirks and rituals. I was decked out in Bronco regalia for the game.
Manning jersey, Bronco tee shirt underneath, Bronco hat, and yes, Bronco tattoo. The tattoo was added after we lost in the playoffs last year to the Baltimore Ravens. Did this help us get to the Super Bowl again? I’ll go out on a limb and say it had nothing to do with it – but any sports fan will tell you that there are football gods and only a fool trifles with them. Why run the risk? The stakes are just too high!
My daughter used the Scotsman fallacy on me last night – “No true atheist would believe in football gods.” Maybe they don’t exist, but I’m a fan – what can I say? A fan does what a fan can to support their team. Through the good years when Super Bowl runs are common place, or through the long dry spells when a championship run isn’t a consideration.