Denver Broncos Blue & Orange
There is nothing worse than being a Bronco fan living in the land of the Bears, the Chiefs, the Rams, the Vikings, and the Packers.
Wearing the original orange and blue is often confused with “DA Bears,” which isn’t as bad as being confused for being a Patriots’ fan, but it is hard. The Broncos have a checkered history. There was year-upon-year when the Broncos team was not only the regional sweetheart and heart breaker, but also the butt of jokes and ridicule in a world where winners are winners and losers were compared to the Broncos.
An oft repeated and famous fan comment, at the end of yet another losing season, was “There is always next year!” Optimism and rabid love for the Broncos kept fans believing in the players who played for the Broncos and fan that filled Mile High Stadium for every game. Mile High had metal floors, which were wonderful to stomp, especially when one’s feet had lost all feeling due to the cold and snow. The metal floors were perfect for creating a very noisy stadium for the opposing teams. Other teams hated the Rocky Mountain Thunder, because the noise made it hard for other teams to call and hear plays. The fans were the 13th man on the team, and was the most powerful weapon.
Another weapon in the Denver Broncos arsenal was the altitude. If one has not been at 5,280 feet for several weeks, it was hard to get used to the thinner air since any physical exertions required a lot of physical conditioning and sideline puffs of oxygen. Opposing teams complained about the thinner air, and how the Broncos had home field advantage because Denver kickers had the natural advantage of thin air for long field goals and punts.
All of those advantages didn’t help in some of those years when the Broncos were referred to as the “Denver Donkeys.” Denver fans remained true blue, and rooted for their beloved home team through wins, of which there were few, and losses, of which there were many.
Then, magically, there were those beautiful years when the Broncos got some respect, albeit grudgingly given by the national football commentators, and won games including back-to-back Super Bowls. It was the era of TD–Terrell Davis–who as a stand-out running back performed miracles on the field, while suffering migraine headaches. It was the years of the Orange Crush. It was the years when Elway hurt his arm and miraculously threw even better in those high stakes games, and was the starting quarterback in five Super Bowls, which was a record in those years when he played.
The Broncos remain the “Rodney Dangerfield” of the NFL. The Broncos have made it to the Super Bowl a record eight times, tied with the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers. They get no respect, and have very few inductees into the Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
Now, after at least a half-dozen quarterbacks have played following the glory Elway days, we are in the waning years of the Peyton Manning era. And nothing has changed regarding the Broncos. The national football commentators still have doubts about the team making it past the Steelers and the Patriots to try to win in Super Bowl 50 or L, if one follows way Roman numerals have been used in past years’ Super Bowls.
John Elway had been the oldest quarterback to play in a Super Bowl before Peyton Manning, who, at age thirty-nine, has been portrayed as “over the hill,” although he has surpassed many of the records of other famous quarterbacks, and has recovered enough from a debilitating neck injury to play at a level that makes him competitive within the National Football League. A sports commentator named him the “Sheriff” because “…of his ability lay down the law in other teams’ stadiums,” and the name has stuck.
Now, for the second time in four years, the Denver Broncos, with the #1 Defense in the NFL, are heading to the Super Bowl, and are already several points down as the underdogs against the Panthers and a younger quarterback. Not wanting a repeat of the rout when the Seattle Seahawks beat the Broncos in New York, they want to bring their best performances for that crucial sixty minutes on the field in Santa Clara in February. If heart, fans, and the desire to have another storied and outstanding quarterback retire with the sweet taste of playing his last game with a victory in a Super Bowl all combine, under some lucky stars, Denver will have some bragging rights–at least until the fall.
Miracles do happen! The #1 Defense in the NFL helped the Broncos win the Super Bowl, and the MVP was Von Miller, a great defenseman who had a rough and rocky start as a rookie. It was a joy to watch the Broncos win, and to watch Peyton Manning surpass other records by starting in 200 games. Other Super Bowl records were set by Bronco players, and wouldn’t it be wonderful to have another back-to-back Super Bowl win?
Keeping in mind what Muhammed Ali once quipped,
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
And taking the advice of Yogi Berra,
If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”
Denver did bring the Lombardi trophy back to the Mile High City in 2016–the 140th anniversary of Colorado’s statehood. It is fitting and proper and downright exciting to cheer for the home team–the lone ranger of pro football in the Mountain Time Zone–in a parade of a million fans in Downtown Denver celebrating the win in Super Bowl 50 with orange a’blaze.