Take a Minute and Give the Broncos a Chance

John Elway played 15 seasons in Denver. But you didn't get to watch him play for as long as you might think you did.

John Elway played 15 seasons in Denver. But you didn't get to watch him in action for as long as you might think you did.

I constantly tell my friends from other parts of the country that Denver is a Broncos town. We have the Nuggets, Avalanche, and Rockies, but we just don’t love these other teams in the same way we’d instantly take a bullet for our Broncos. Denver bleeds blue and orange instead of blue and gold, blue and crimson, or black and purple because no matter what happens we always believe the Broncos will make the playoffs up until the moment it becomes mathematically impossible.

Even then, we think someone at ESPN has fudged the equation. I personally don’t give in until Mark Schlereth stares into the camera and intensely states, “The Denver Broncos are now officially out of the running this year.” I can hear the disappointment in his voice. Through the screen we are on the same page. I finally allow reality to set in because I know it hurts Schlereth to break this piece of news as much as it troubles me to digest it.

There is something fleeting and nostalgic about NFL football that sets The League apart from other professional sports. The truth is that we have a very limited amount of time to watch our favorite Broncos perform. Yes, NFL careers seem to grow shorter every year due to the genetic mutation of linebackers. That however is not my main point here. We can understand our passion for the Broncos by considering the obvious: there are only sixteen 48-minute games during the regular season. If the Broncos don’t qualify for the postseason, we only view 768 minutes of Bronco football in a given year.  At 33 minutes per game, Carmelo Anthony plays 768 minutes of basketball well before the All-Star Break each season. Joe Sakic has logged more than 15,000 minutes of ice time in an Avalanche sweater. A baseball game could feasibly last an eternity, so for all we know Larry Walker may have played 525,600 minutes (a full year) of baseball during his nine and a half seasons with the Rockies.

Jerry McMorris has officially robbed Colorado of its baseball soul. Larry Walker is the most significant aspect of Rockies history. Walker, the best Canadian to ever play the game, is an even better story than the Rockies making the ’07 World Series. Plus, Larry rode his Harley to Coors Field on game days and occasionally rocked a great handle-bar mustache.

Jerry McMorris has officially robbed Colorado of its baseball soul. Larry Walker is the most significant aspect of Rockies history. Walker, the best Canadian to ever play the game, is an even better story than the Rockies making the ’07 World Series. Plus, Larry rode his Harley to Coors Field on game days and occasionally rocked a great handle-bar mustache.

Although John Elway played fifteen seasons in Denver and his legacy continues to awe us, how many minutes did he actually spend under center? The answer to this question makes me feel as though I took Elway for granted. Furthermore, I’m now clinically depressed because I was unable to TiVo every second of the Terrell Davis years.

Elway appeared in 234 regular season games and 22 postseason games during his career. Assuming the offense was on the field for exactly one half of each game in which he played, Denver fans had the opportunity to watch Elway lead the offense for only 6,144 minutes over the course of one and half decades. To put that figure in perspective, Allen Iverson logged 3,444 minutes on the court for the Nuggets during the ’07-’08 season. In one NBA season, we witnessed Allen Iverson, a player we traded three games into the following season, play for 56% as long as Colorado’s greatest athlete of all-time. Wow. Who feels like they let a moment pass them by? (Note: My hand is in the air)

There are precious moments in every sport. However, one minute in the NFL is more meaningful than in any other professional league. This is why we care so much about the Broncos.

Each year on the 4th of July, I begin thinking long and hard about the Broncos. I cast my doubts aside and optimistically ponder what the Broncos could become during the upcoming season. My fondest Bronco memories allow me to do so. I’ll always remember watching Alfred Williams dive into the endzone after returning a forced fumble for a touchdown against the Bengals in September of ’96. TD ran all over the Bengals that Sunday, but the Mile High crowd didn’t truly erupt until Alfred floated face first over the goal line. This was the only touchdown he ever scored. He danced and his trademark smile flashed upon the jumbotron. I witnessed Alfred’s moment. I smiled as Alfred smiled and watched as that NFL minute became his.

It’s these smaller moments that make each Broncos season special. Moreover, the significance of these moments never fades. In its time and place, Alfred’s swan dive convinced me that the ’96-’97 Broncos were contenders to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl. That fumble recovery is also what presently allows me to wipe the slate clean and dream on the ’09-’10 season.

Alfred says, "Give 'em a chance." He's 6'6" 265 pounds and he sacked an opposing QB 59.5 times, so let's just do whatever he says.

Alfred says, "Give 'em a chance." He's 6'6" 265 pounds and he sacked an opposing QB 59.5 times, so let's just do whatever he says.

Controversy shrouds the Broncos as they prepare for training camp ’09. This was an especially turbulent offseason. But let your favorite aspects of the Broncos’ past make recent events history. Do whatever it takes to smile like Alfred. Hark back to The Drive, visualize all of Rod Smith’s most impressive catches, or reminisce the Elway-TD Super Bowl seasons. Just do yourself a favor and start giving these Broncos a chance because you know you will eventually. It’s in your blood. Plus, an NFL minute is far too precious to sour before it arrives.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Take a Minute and Give the Broncos a Chance

  1. JD

    Despite all the drama surronding the team this offseason, I agree and want to give the team a chance. We spent too many seasons in a row since the 05 AFC Championship game being told this team was only a player or two away from greatness only to see this team continually underacheive and fade down the stretch of every season since, exposing a weakness in special teams and a huge deficiency in the defense with no real improvement in sight. At least this team has decided upon a new direction whether we like it right now or not. The free agent signings this year remind me of the signings they had before ’96 which resulted in great success until ’99. They may struggle out of the gate with the tough schedule, but as long as there is solid improvement throughout the season, the team avoids the mental mistakes that cost them games the past few seasons, and there are no obvious weaknesses that consistently hinder their progress, at least we can have something to look forward to in the future. Coach McDaniels has put a lot of pressure on himself and the team to succeed quickly, but we need to temper expectations and realize that this team was not as good as we thought and was a lot farther away in talent that we were led to believe. Regardless of the gaudy offensive numbers in terms of yardage, it didn’t result in enough points to secure wins in important games. Yes, the lack of a consistent running game, injuries, and a porous defense were major factors as well, and those still need to be addressed. We shall see if a new system, philosophy, attitude, etc. will be able to get this once proud franchise back to greatness in a few short years.

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