Hanging in the hallway of my apartment is a piece of … well, history. It’s orange and tattered and just about the right size to fit (tightly, perhaps) on a small 12 year old. I remember wearing it, watching the Broncos fight all the way to the Superbowl under command of Craig Morton, aided by Haven Moses, Lyle Alzado, Randy Gradishar, Rick Upchurch, Rob Lytle and the incredible #57, Tom Jackson.
I used to sit on the edge of the couch, hunched forward (especially during the 4th quarter) with my elbows on my knees, right knee determinedly bouncing about once a second. You see, I used to be able to influence the outcome of Bronco games — or so I told myself. I just knew that if I stared enough energy into the screen they would win. And sometimes, they would make incredible plays and support my conviction. The times that they didn’t, I just wasn’t trying hard enough.
I’ve changed some since then. For one thing, I don’t follow football nearly as closely as I used to. And I don’t put quite as much stock in my abilities to influence John Elway’s arm through the television. But I’ve never forsaken my Broncos. I’ve never been a fair-weather fan. Even when they had “poor” seasons, they were still my favorite NFL team. When I was living in Phoenix, I rooted for the Broncos whenever they came to town against the Cardinals. (Of course, most of Phoenix did …)
Another thing I’ve never changed is my respect for John Elway. When he first came into the league, refusing to play for the Colts when they drafted him, he caught a lot of negative press, even from Bronco fans. I think a lot of people felt he would only be here a short time and then go after the highest bidder. After all, he was just a cocky hot-shot, right? I didn’t have this feeling about him. I liked him from the start, and was determined to enjoy his play no matter what the people around me were saying (yes, you Dad!) Fortunately, John did not come here to give up.
Now, in his 15th year with the league, John Elway is still piloting the high-flying Broncos, and better than ever. He has a formidable group of guys behind him in Terrell Davis, Tyrone Braxton, Ed McCaffrey, Shannon Sharpe, Bill Romanowski, Ray Crockett and the incredible Denver front line. The country is behind him, knowing that he has to be close to the end of his career — even someone as tough as John can only take about 20 years of this stuff! Much of America wants to see John Elway win a Superbowl, and I believe that he and the rest of the Broncos can pull it off if they can tap into that positive energy.
Besides, they have to win. I’ll have my tattered 20-year-old Bronco shirt with me on Game Day!