We have to talk about the Denver Broncos. We just have to.
Let me preface this by saying that historically, I was never a fan of a single team in any sport. As a child, my heroes were singers and the cast of “Full House.” After 6th grade, I never played organized sports. In fact, I loathed physical activity – because give me a spot on the couch with the VCR and a bag of makeup. I joined the marching band so I didn’t have to take P.E., because I literally would have rather worn a plumed hat than sweat.
I got it in my head at an early age that I wasn’t good at sports – so why pay attention to them?
But in 2010, a fateful thing happened: I moved to Denver. It was the beginning of Tebow-mania – and love him or hate him, that guy made Broncos games worth watching because you never knew what was going to happen. It could be a disaster or it could be magic, and the city spent a couple of seasons on the edge of their stadium seats, never quite sure which they would witness.
One night in November, I had been shopping at the Park Meadows Mall and was heading through the food court on my way to the car. As I walked toward the doors, I noticed that the game was playing on a few big screen TVs and that everyone – EVERYONE – had stopped in their tracks to watch. Without knowing what was going on, the electricity in the air was obvious even to me. I found myself drifting toward the game, and was quickly enveloped into the crowd. And in the last 6 minutes of that game against the Jets, I watched as Tebow led the team to come from behind and score two touchdowns for a Broncos victory.
And the crowd literally went wild. There at the mall, absolute mayhem broke out, strangers were high-fiving me, the noise level was off the charts, and I even saw a man shed some tears. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t a sports fan – all of a sudden, I was a Denverite.
And just like that, I was paying attention to football.
Becoming a Broncos fan proved to be a turning point for me in my Denver tenure. Up until that point, friendship had proven difficult and I was checking Craigslist for apartments in different cities just about every day. I was lonely and felt displaced. But all of a sudden, I had a point of connection with the people around me. It’s like the Broncos had been a foreign language, but now I knew some of the words. I had something to say to the grocery checkers, my next door neighbors, strangers at parties. And suddenly, in this city in which I previously had zero investment, I started to gain some traction.
I’ve now lived in Denver for over 4 years – twice as long as I lived in Nashville, which is bonkers and hard to believe. I love this city and my life in it. There are a few things to which I attribute this sense of Denver becoming “home”: buying a house, obviously. Getting a bike, because it’s easier to feel connected to the people around you when you’re passing each other and breathing the same air, as opposed to next to someone else in a car. Adopting Foxy, because a dog is the very best excuse for conversation with strangers. Spending every possible minute I can in the mountains. A job that most days, I really love.
But before all of that was the Broncos, a team that has been more and more fun to root for over the past few years (Peyton Manning, we love you!).
I’m sure there’s a girl in Seattle who would say that the Seahawks have had the same effect on her life, but that girl isn’t me. So despite the hundreds of people in my Facebook newsfeed who are cheering on the other team, on Sunday you’ll find me unapologetically in orange and blue.