Those who know me even just a little know that I'm a Broncos fan. Some might say a Broncs fanatic. A few of my friends that don't like football come over to watch me watching the game. I'm guaranteed to yell. I often jump and sometimes lie prostrate on the ground. I throw my own penalty flags. I often make a comment immediately before the announcers repeat the same insight. I typically don't eat or drink unless it's halftime. Drinking a beer during the game puts more beer on me and the ground than in me.
I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't love the Broncos. One of my earliest Broncos memories is from Super Bowl XXII in 1988. I was almost 5 years old. My parents threw a party and when the Broncos were destroyed 42-10 by the Redskins, the adults decided to start a bonfire out back and burn all the Bronco gear in disgust. I remember telling my mom that I didn't want to throw my gear into the fire. She assured me that I didn't have to burn my gear while throwing in decorations from the house.
I also had a strong affinity for orange and blue Bronco clothes as a child. I had a Broncos sweat suit - orange pants, orange arms with the old logo in the middle - that I insisted on wearing every day. My mom says that she had to wash it while I slept because I wanted to wear it so frequently. We have some photos of my family on a Mexican cruise with me wearing the Broncos sweat suit in the formal dining room.
As I got older, I began to understand more about the rules of football and the strategy of the game. I also began to take the losses very seriously. So seriously that I cried when the team lost. My dad had to tell me that taking it
seriously wouldn't make me enjoy the game. Though I still feel disappointed when they lose, I'm proud to say I haven't cried over a loss as an adult. But I still suspect that the wins are much more satisfying when you take it seriously...even if it does make the losses harder to swallow.
When I was in 9th grade, I finally had the joy of watching my team win the Super Bowl. I remember that playoff season so clearly. A revenge win against Jacksonville, who had cruelly ended our playoff run the year before. A close win against a division opponent in Kansas City. Another nail biter in Pittsburgh, beating the Steelers in the AFC Championship. Followed by an underdog win against the mighty Packers, giving John Elway his first Super Bowl win. I painted my face half orange and half blue for the victory parade.
I didn't attend my first game until my senior year of high school. My dad thought it would be a good idea to head to the stadium for the last game of the season and buy tickets from someone on the street. The only problem was that it was the last game at the old Mile High Stadium and no one was selling tickets. We had given up and were walking back to our car when we saw two guys in the parking lot with two tickets that they were selling for face value. We sat down just in time for the opening kickoff and saw the Broncos beat the 49ers.
I left Denver after high school and lived in Philadelphia, New York City, Seattle and Boston. Watching games wasn't as easy as simply turning on the TV on Sunday. I had to seek out sports bars, often sitting by myself and being hit on my creepy guys, just to watch my team.
One time my college roommates thought someone broke into our house because they heard glass breaking. It was just me watching football, though. I stood on the couch and hit my head on the shelf with candles and vases when the Broncos lost on a last second field goal on Monday Night Football.
Another time my brother came to visit me in New York and we went to a Broncos - Giants game in the old Giants Stadium. Fans in the nose bleed seats threw empty beer bottles at us even though the Broncos lost.
When a snow storm delayed my flight home for Christmas, I resorted to Greyhound busses to get me from New York to Colorado in time for a Christmas Eve Broncos game. The Broncos won when the Bengals missed an extra point in the snowy conditions.
A few years ago, I managed to find a way to watch the Broncos playoff game on my iPad from Tierra del Fuego Argentina. I typically lose my voice during the playoffs and always lose my voice when I go to games. I've watched games in my ski gear because the temperatures were sub 10 degrees. I've jumped on couches (and not just my own). I've hugged strangers in bars and in the stadium.
I love that no matter where I have lived, football season makes me feel close to my family. I only exceed my text limit during football season when my brother and dad "live text" our reactions to the game. Though we aren't physically in the same place, it feels like we watch the games together. My standard for a really exciting win when my brother calls me after the game because we're too excited to text. It usually involves screams of excitement. The Broncos win over the Patriots in over time this year was one of those games.
Watching the Broncos brings my friends together, too. It's always exciting to meet a fellow Broncos fan, especially those who can reminisce about the team decades ago.
I'm lucky to be a fan of a team that usually wins. In my lifetime (since 1983), they've only had 5 losing seasons. They've won the Super Bowl 3 times, gone to the Super Bowl 6 times, made it to the playoffs 19 times.
You can imagine how I felt when the Broncos won the Super Bowl this year (and if you can't you should watch
- I'm the one in the backwards hat and Broncos plaid shirt). In a season where no one believed in us, where we won most of our games by the very smallest of margins, where we fought our way through uncertainty, it was incredibly satisfying and exciting to win it all.
Perhaps it isn't surprising that that my friends think of me when they see the Broncos win. I received 10x as many texts after my team won the Super Bowl than I did on my last birthday. One of my favorite parts of the Super Bowl win was the many texts, emails and messages from friends congratulating me on the win (obviously my cheering helped). Friends from high school, from college, from when I lived in NYC, Seattle, Philly, Boston, the Dominican Republic, friends in Denver, friends who used to live in Denver. I like to think that gives me super fan status.
All of this to say that I created a Broncos knitting pattern, because, well of course. I saw some beanies two years ago and thought I could improve the pattern with my own design. Then my brother asked me to make him one. This pattern passes my knitting test of not looking homemade. People often ask me where I bought my cool retro hat.
I finally got around to writing up the pattern, but didn't want to jinx the team by posting it during the playoffs. Sounds crazy, right? But since the season ended so well, my Bronco gear is still out and I don't feel bad writing a post all about football in March.
United in orange, I sang "We Are the Champions" with 1 million other fans at the victory parade. In the spirit of the Broncos bringing my family together, my friends together and my city together, I'm offering this pattern for free to all the other Bronco fans out there. Go Broncos!