After a lengthy illness that dates back to the week leading up to the Super Bowl, I am back, and my Broncos are Super Bowl champions. I do my best to remain objective on this blog, but for this post, I am a fan. I will spend a very short time on the game itself and the rest of the post is going to be about what the win means to me and how deep my fandom runs. It will be an interesting read for those who know me and those that do not.
As far as the game, Denver kept doing what everyone said they could not keep doing all year. The defense kept forcing turnovers and negative yardage plays, the kicking game was rock solid, and the Peyton Manning led offense did just enough. Carolina was simply banking on no defense being able to contain and frustrate MVP Cam Newton, but Denver was more than able. Once he was neutralized, the rest of Carolina’s offense was remarkably average. Denver is a team that all anyone wanted to talk about all year was what they were unable to do. They are now champions. What the Broncos will look like next year is another conversation for another day. Hats off to Gary Kubiak and his entire staff as well as all 53 players. It really did take every one of them to pull this off.
Now, from my perspective, the Broncos winning the Super Bowl is as big as it gets outside of births and deaths in my family. How does a kid born and raised in Cincinnati grow up to live and die with the Broncos? Well, like so many folks my age I watched the Bengals do nothing but lose in the 90s, but I knew from an early age I loved football. I wanted to root for a team that was competitive. Thus, I was fascinated by John Elway’s pursuit of a championship in the twilight of his career. Before I knew it I had his jersey and at five years old I was all in on the Broncos. Well, Elway got two titles at the tail end of his career following the ’97 and ’98 seasons, making me a very happy boy. Most of you probably knew that, what you do not know is that when I had hamstring surgery related to my Cerebral Palsy late in the ’98 season, my casts from the waist down were orange with blue stripes (Bronco colors). I had another surgery during the 2008 season, same casts colors. It was my only request to my parents before going under. I remember watching Denver lose a Monday night game to Miami in the hospital in ‘98. The nurse thought I was in extreme pain. My parents explained that the main issue was simply the Broncos losing.
That is just one small example how seriously I take sports in general, but particularly Broncos football. My parents took me to Indianapolis for a game in 2004. I had a 102 fever, but still went. My parents knew better than to talk me out of it. The heavy underdog Broncos beat the Colts to clinch a playoff spot. By the time the game ended, my fever was gone. Make what you will of that. When longtime head coach Mike Shanahan was fired after a late season collapse in 2008, my mom did not to tell me when I got home from school, and when she did I thought she was joking and got mad at her. Also, any former teacher of mine will tell you I was much more difficult to deal with on a Monday following a Broncos loss. Some may think this is crazy, but I love living and dying with the Broncos and managing each battle they engage in. I call my own plays during games. It is my escape. During Bronco games, I have no Cerebral Palsy, mobility issues, and feel no pain (except that of losing), I am just a passionate fan. I do not know how I would stay sane without sports.
So, this Super Bowl win is everything to me. When Denver won back to back Super Bowls in the 90s, I was too young to understand how hard it was to win in the NFL. I had just become a fan. I just figured Denver would be in the Super Bowl every year. Obviously, it does not work that way. When Elway retired after the ’98 season, it took Denver awhile to be competitive again. They did not win another playoff game until the 2005 season. That was followed by another six year playoff drought. I am not trying to say I have suffered as much as Bengal fans in my hometown. That just is not true. They have not seen a playoff win since 1990. However, the low moments make you appreciate the good times more as a fan. The Broncos are on a really good run right now. Five straight division titles, two trips to the Super Bowl, and one Lombardi trophy in the last half decade. The Super Bowl win tastes so much sweeter now than it did in the ‘90s. I now understand how hard it is to get to the top of the NFL.
Like all sports, the NFL is cyclical. Meaning every up tick a franchise goes through, there will eventually be a down tick. Trust me, nothing will change from my perspective. I will still live and die with the Broncos just the same. I have suffered through QBs like Bubby Brister and Brian Griese. How much worse can it get? Oh well, in the meantime I am going to enjoy my time at the top while it lasts. It is the closest I will ever get to being called a champion of anything, which is why it means so much to me.