A Trial Separation From The Broncos
Maybe it’s time for us Broncos fans to get off our high horse. Over the past ten years, we’ve hoisted the Lombardi a couple of times, made the playoffs more often than not, won more regular season games than any other team, and ended the Patriots' post-season win streak on one of the most remarkable plays of the decade. It’s been a great run.
But with the Rockies writing baseball history and the Broncos losing 6 of their past 8 home games, there’s never been a better moment to hitch our bandwagon to the purple dinosaur. For the first time in years, the Rox are playing not just in front of an audience but something resembling a real, honest-to-God fan-base. Let’s face it; Drew Goodman and the elderly Coors field ushers are about the only people in this city who can honestly say they’ve been there since the beginning of the season. The rest of us jumped on the bandwagon like LoDo hobos.
Meanwhile, a few miles and losing streaks away, Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall reacted to the Mile High exile that took place midway through the 3rd quarter on Sunday like a spurned and jealous lover.
"If you're going to be a Broncos fan, be a Broncos fan,” said Marshall, who fumbled away a first quarter catch that would have set up 1st and goal with the game still in reach. “Don't boo us when we're down. That's bandwagon. When we start winning, then what? We make our mistakes and we're going to lose. The Rockies are winning, and at the beginning of the season, were you all filling the stands? Now you want to fill the stands for the Rockies games. Do the same for us, but 100 percent, all the time. When we're losing, we lose and you all stay in those seats. I love you all to death, but at the same time, that's not first class. We win here. You guys know that we win, and you have your ups and downs in football."
Because Marshall is in just his second season and his fiery personality also helps make him one of the hardest receivers to take down in the open field, his comments should be taken with a grain of salt. But his response raises an interesting question: What do the fans owe the players?
The answer is somewhere between jack and squat. As tempting as it is to see the relationship between a team and its community as familial, our love is not unconditional, nor should it be. If a CU alum, disgusted by the reprehensible actions of its administration and coaching staff over the past few years, falls for another team, so be it. We didn’t sign up for better or for worse, and we certainly didn’t take an oath of celibacy.
In the context of our current crush on the Rockies, will the players harbor some secret resentment to the suddenly swooning fans who, just two months back, stayed home to watch preseason football instead of root, root, rooting for the home team? According to centerfielder Ryan Spilborghs, not at all. He knows that you’ve got to romance the fans, take them out on a few dates with destiny, whisper a few sweet nothing-can stop-us-es in their ear. And we’re an easy lay: As recently as 1999, when the Rox officially began their stay in baseball’s Motel 6, we lead the league in attendance. The Rockies had us at hello, but our relationship had grown stale and predictable. Now all of a sudden they're showing up at our job with roses and taking us out for weekend picnics.
The Broncos have responded like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Sunday’s 41-3 home blowout to the Chargers wasn’t just a loss – it was the football equivalent of catching your parents having sex: Unbearably awkward and embarrassing for everyone. With every facet of our game screwing up in every way possible, it’s hard to blame 76,879 fans for walking out of the stadium before the start of the fourth quarter, averting their eyes and muttering, “gross, gross, gross…”
So maybe it’s time to see other people. Not breakup, per se – the Broncos will always be number one in this city's heart – but just spend some time apart, to see if we’re really meant for each other. Tell you what, Broncos, we’ll call you on the 21st and see how you’re doing then. But just remember: No promises.
-- Mark Schiff