Broncos fans in Seahawks country still bleed orange and blue

Zack Barnett is smack-dab in the middle.

San Francisco 49ers to the south. Seattle Seahawks to the north.

In Eugene, Ore., fans of both teams.

And there’s Barnett, an-I-bleed-orange-and-blue Denver Broncos fan.

“We either get the 49ers or the Seahawks game on Fox,” said Barnett, who grew up in Grand Junction and is now the director of strategic communications at the University of Oregon. “It’s been fun to needle them. Seattle is not a big-league town.

“I have to attribute this to a friend who’s a 49er fan. He likes to tell them, ‘Seattle is a great city, I love going there. There’s one thing I’ve never found ... a Super Bowl ring.’ That’ll get ‘em going.”

Barnett, 37, has had an old-school youth Broncos helmet since he was a kid. The other night, just for fun, he crammed it onto his head. He’ll wear it — briefly, because it’s so tight, it hurts his head — at a Super Bowl party Sunday he’s attending, with (he hopes) 49ers fans.

He likes to kid his friends who are Seahawks fans about the lack of championships, but this year especially, about the moniker craze.

“It’s more fun to attack the cuteness,” Barnett said, laughing. “What is it? Beast Mode? The Legion of Boom? Nicknames don’t win titles. That’s what I keep telling Seahawk fans. Purple People Eaters, Killer B’s (Miami Dolphins, 1982), Orange Crush ... they didn’t win. What was the last nickname that won? Steel Curtain? They earned that. What did they call the ‘85 Bears? Oh yeah, the ‘85 Bears. That’s a source of tension.

“They want to go back and attack (John) Elway. I was walking to coffee (Tuesday) with a Seahawk fan, and he says, ‘John Elway is a horse-faced ass.’ I’m like, ‘OK, Dave Krieg was awesome ... where’s his bust in the Hall of Fame?’ “

On the other end of the smack-talk spectrum is Robin Hamilton, who grew up in the Denver area. Now the associate athletic director at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., Hamilton has kept a low profile leading up to Sunday’s game.

“This is a real good time to practice my tongue-biting,” said Hamilton, the younger sister of Home Loan Insurance CEO and JUCO World Series Chairman Jamie Hamilton. “I’m taking the high road as often as possible.”

She’s noticed a few of the Loggers’ student-athletes with Broncos garb, and they’ve become kindred spirits.

“One of our student-athletes from Colorado, a young woman in our basketball program, I yelled over the railing to her, ‘I got your back!’ She said, ‘I know!’ This could be my loneliest Super Bowl party, all by myself,” she said.

Actually, she is attending a Super Bowl party, but mainly with 49ers fans, who, naturally, have become Broncos fans.

On Friday, when most around her are wearing the lime green and blue of the Seahawks, she was sporting her team colors. She’ll save the Broncos sweatshirt for Sunday.

“I will wear orange,” she said. “Fashion savvy as I am, it will be orange and blue. It may not be as blatant; I will politely do it. I’m fortunate to work in an athletic department, we’re accustomed to rivalries.”

Hamilton, 53, hopes to have bragging rights Monday, one reason she’s kept pretty quiet this week. People wonder why, after living in the Seattle area for 28 years, is she not a Seahawks fan?

“Every person should have one team for a lifetime,” she said. “Just because I live here, you can’t take away sitting in the south stands as a kid growing up. I’m a Broncos fan.

“I’m old enough to remember when I went to training camp at Mines, that’s one of my favorite memories. I saw Craig Morton at a movie theater and thought that was the greatest thing in the world, Floyd Little ...

“One team for a lifetime, and mine are the Broncos.”


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