Football - Denver Broncos Football
How important is football to me? After my faith and family, it is number one, especially Denver Broncos football. “Watch the Broncos win the Super Bowl” joined two other items (get married, and have a baby) at the top of my bucket list.
When the blue and orange won their first AFC Championship I bought an Orange Crush Defense shirt in Boulder where I taught. I wore the shirt, cheered all the way to hoarseness, and mourned the team’s losses. The Broncos’ success distracted me from unsuccessful relationships. When the Cowboys beat the Broncos in that year’s championship, I said, "I’ll marry when the Broncos win the Super Bowl!"
Who knew each would take decades?
Instead of sitting around waiting for either my knight-in-shining armor or my team’s Vince Lombardi trophy, my faith kept me on track with other aspects of my bucket list. Meanwhile, I wore my official NFL earrings every time my team played, even when games triggered Evansville, IN students’ jokes, and forced sleepless nights watching AAFES network in Kitzingen, Germany.
I moved back to Colorado a few months before Denver drafted John Elway. One summer day I went to Greeley with my brother, Wes’s family to see our new quarterback, convinced someday John would win the Super Bowl for us.
Brenda, a fellow teacher and roommate in Indiana, moved back to her hometown, Cleveland, OH. Somehow our friendship continued through AFC Championship games in 1987, 1988 and 1990 even though our teams competed each time. Her graciousness at my crazy football fever might have had something to do with her gifted husband and three adorable daughters or pity.
I recorded my own parody song, to the tune of Barbara Mandrell’s I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool. “I remember wearing Bronco earrings and Orange Crush shirts even when they weren’t in style…” The words didn’t quite flow. No radio station was interested.
Another Broncos-related incident encouraged me a few months after our mother died. One child’s dad collected him after my three-year-olds Sunday School class. When he knelt next to his boy, John Elway wasn’t a multi-millionaire, ultra-competitive, superstar athlete but a daddy who loved his little boy enough to admire Jackie’s painting as though it were a Picasso. That love, like Mom’s would never die.
During the 1996 season I believed the media, collected newspapers after each game, and supposed the headlines would provide a history of the path to the Broncos’ first Super Bowl win. I assumed the coaches knew best when they rested top players after the team clinched home field advantage in November. But the Jaguars (Jacksonville, of all teams!) came to town, and in dream-shattering fashion bumped the Broncos out of the playoffs.
The next season, less starry-eyed I watched the Broncos beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. I was so wary, that I declined a friend’s offer when she found an inexpensive, all-inclusive deal on Super Bowl trips. Instead I attended a muted, private party hosted by a friend who suffered with me through previous Super Bowl appearances. It hardly mattered that night’s date night never called again, because with the score tied at seventeen, I saw Number Seven dive for a first down in the third quarter, and knew the Broncos would beat the Green Bay Packers—or John Elway would die trying.
We did it. We beat the Packers! I lived in astonishment. The world knew what I had always known: THE BRONCOS WERE THE BEST TEAM IN FOOTBALL AND WON THE SUPERBOWL!
A guy at work asked me to go to the Championship Parade with him. His mother’s company overlooked the parade route and the conference room was party-central. The entire city took a holiday on that warm winter day. I was so excited I don’t remember much except the players took as many pictures of the crowd as we took of them, Shannon Sharpe’s arms were as big as my thighs and how sparkly the Lombardi Trophy is.
But another guy I met about that time turned out to be the love of my life. How could I resist—one of his first gifts was a PC game called “Madden 98”? With degrees from Stonybrook in New York (particle physics) and the University of Colorado (computer science) and a Broncos fan, to boot; Robert Moore was perfect for me. As improbable as it seemed, my prediction came true – I got married the year the Broncos won the Super Bowl.
Not long after they won the next year’s championship against Atlanta we learned I was pregnant. My CEO knew I was a Broncos fan and rewarded my successful management of the company’s inaugural conference, with an autographed Elway jersey. Our miracle, Adam, was born six weeks after I received the jersey. He watches games with us and his sister, my stepdaughter, Becca. We dragged him to football and other sports camps but with his daddy’s brains and, until recently, my diminutive height, he’d rather design the next stadium, video game or game plan than run into huge guys playing football.
For a few seasons, until 2011, watching football caused more frustration than excitement. Yes, there were some post-season appearances, but nothing like when Tim Tebow played. He made the Broncos fun again. But, more than that, hearing his positive, encouraging post-game remarks and watching him engineer astonishing wins gave our family distraction and faith beyond our hope through painful sorrow that Christmas. Our three-year-old yellow lab’s cancer diagnosis came on December 23—the day after Anne, my brilliant, talented younger sister, died unexpectedly. I sit on the rollercoaster of emotion again, and enjoy the second consecutive year of Peyton Manning enthusiasm.
My faith and family will survive if I don’t check other items off my bucket list but life would be so more fun if I do!