Broncos lost, but when you pick a passion, you win

And so the mourning begins. At least it does for me. Maybe the passing of four days has erased the Super Bowl sting for you, but I write this on Sunday night, when sadness and despair fill my soul.

Still looking for the humor column? Keep looking.

Of the 32 teams in the NFL, 31 end the season in disappointment, which is where we find ourselves today. But at least 49ers and Patriots fans can turn their grief into hopes for their city’s baseball team to win the World Series. As Colorado Rockies fans, we don’t have that option.

It hurts enough to want to give up on the Broncos. God knows I’ve tried that before.

Back in 1996, the Broncos were favorites to win the Super Bowl. On the way to the coronation however, an expansion team from Jacksonville knocked us out in one of the biggest playoff upsets ever. It was good news for Colorado pharmacies that sell anti-depressants, but everyone else was left hopeless and devastated. “Never again,” I promised myself. This shouldn’t hurt so much, and I vowed to give up the Broncos for good.

Seven months later, I was in the Mile High Stadium stands on opening day.

The Broncos break our hearts, yet we always come back. It’s like they’re an abusive boyfriend, and we’re the insecure 19-year-old girl with daddy issues who keeps coming back to him.

There’s this Bronco obsession many of us have. Some of you don’t get it. And I get that you don’t get it. It can seem strange — becoming emotionally invested in the athletic performance of 20-something millionaires you’ve never met. Yet the Broncos are more than an entertaining diversion on autumn afternoons. It’s fun. Friends. Family. Tradition. When my daughter is 90, she’ll remember that on Sundays, Daddy said prayers to God in the morning and cuss words to referees in the afternoon.

Even the bandwagon fans won’t understand — the ones who buy “18” jerseys for $80 in January, who pick up orange and blue City Market cupcakes for the one Bronco game they’ll watch all year.

Bandwagon fans are fine by me. “Welcome aboard,” I say. It’s just that unlike us diehards, you’ll never share our unexplainable pleasure in victory, nor suffer the cruel emotional sting after a loss.

Like how I felt back on Jan. 15, 1978, the first time I remember crying. Dallas had just beaten us 27-10 in Super Bowl X-something. And yes, I say “us” as if I’m actually on the field, making tackles.

My dad tried consoling his 9-year-old that sad, cold January night: “We’ll get ‘em next year,” he said.

He didn’t mean that literally. Our quarterback’s knees were shot, our offense was non-existent, and a roster full of nobodies would be unable to recreate that 1977 magic.

“We’ll get ‘em next year” was his way of saying “there’s always hope.” Maybe not immediately, but better days are ahead, you just have to keep the faith. And whether we’re going through a divorce, cancer diagnosis, or something as trivial as the losing end of a football game, sometimes we just need someone to tell us, “we’ll get ‘em next year.”

“Life is not a spectator sport,” says the T-shirt, only it is. The key is being an active spectator in life, with an emotional investment in the outcome. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Right now, it hurts. But feeling the pain at least means you’re in the game. God help those soulless zombies out there, with faux detached coolness, who refuse to jump in, to take sides.

Maybe it’s football, maybe baseball, politics, UFC, “The Bachelor,” high school debate or women’s lacrosse. But pick your team, I say. Share in their triumphs, mourn in their defeats, because sometimes life IS a spectator sport, and the only people who lose are the ones who don’t care.

Go Broncos. We’ll get ‘em next year.

Reach Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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