There’s an often repeated story about the day I was born. It happened to be a Sunday and the Broncos were playing. And anyone that knows my dad, knows that the birth of his firstborn would take precedence over the Denver Broncos. But barely. And while my mom laid there, panting and breathing her way through contractions, Dad still had the audacity to ask about the score. Whenever the story is told, Dad will turn red and stutter out an apology.
Our household bled orange and blue. Every Sunday, Mom did her best to quiet the four girls so Dad could enjoy the game. Well, it was never quiet, Dad’s incapable of quiet during a Broncos game. Every success or failure was met with a loud holler or groan, and fist pounding. Lots of fist pounding. The kind of fist pounding that if we had friends over, they’d turn with wide eyes and a little bit of fear on their face.
We hoped for a win. Every football season, every week, we hoped for a win. A win meant Dad would be in a great mood and there’d probably be a jig, some high fives, and forehead bumps. TONS of forehead bumps. But if the Broncos lost, watch out. It was as though we lived in a tomb. Silence. Tension. Sadness. Even anger from time to time. Especially if we lost to the Raiders. But within a few days, all was right in the house again and Dad would have high hopes for the next game.
It stands to reason that we all became Broncos fans, some more avid than others. But when you grow up in a house rooting for the local team, the passion that you witness, soon becomes a part of your soul too. And so watching the Broncos games with our dad became a time of connection, a time to scream at the TV together.
And eventually, he decided we were old enough to take to games with him. It was a rite of passage, a tradition that we continue to this day. One of my favorite memories was a Broncos-Cardinals game. We sat behind the visiting team, 40-yard line, about four rows up. There was a fan sitting behind us that was hurling some intense insults at the opposing team. And it got under the skin of one of the players, a BIG player. The problem was, the player thought it was DAD saying the insults and Dad gestured frantically to the fan behind us. Dad was a little petrified when the player stared him down, then spit on the ground. It was intimidating to say the least.
We watched Dad mourn the Broncos losses and celebrate their wins. Watching them go to Super Bowl after Super Bowl only to lose was heartbreaking for my dad, and when they FINALLY won in 1998, I saw my dad celebrate in a way I have never seen before. He drove us through the streets of our town, honking the horn, allowing us to get out celebrate with the other revelers. He even allowed us to ditch school on the day of the Victory Parade. It was though their victory was Dad’s victory too, and that, my friends, is a die-hard fan.
In less than 48 hours, our Broncos are playing the Super Bowl again. It’ll be their seventh appearance, and they’re playing for their third win. I am going to swallow my pride here and admit… deep sigh… that I was wrong. While I never had anything against Peyton Manning, I had strong feelings when the Broncos signed him. But it was never about Peyton. And this season, I’ve really gotten to witness the caliber of athleticism that he brings to the team, and I’m impressed. (Sean Janelle, you close your mouth this instant! Yes, I’m saying I was wrong!)
So while I dread the years that are coming once Peyton decides to retire, I’m going to enjoy the ride while we have him. And when the Broncos have to start over (and they will), I will still bleed orange and blue. After all, we’re raising the future generation of Broncos fans. And we have our dad to thank for starting the tradition.
PS While I’ll be thrilled for Peyton if he gets that second ring, I’ll be happiest for Champ Bailey. Its high time he has a ring to go with the career he’s dedicated to the Broncos. Its time to ride, boys.