Background… I moved to Denver in 2003, the Jake Plummer years, AutoNation was still John Elway Dealerships and the afterglow of the Superbowl victories still burned brightly. This is my account going from not really knowing the Broncos, to hating them, to gradually seeing myself someday becoming a fan. Please take this for what it is and that is for fun. I put it together for fun and thought some of you lifelong Bronco fans might find some humor here and maybe an opportunity to reflect on your own journey.
Note: As an outsider it is important to have a sponsor in this process whether they know it or not. Mine is a poster on this site that goes by the name Unarming Mermaid. He has helped to cultivate many of these steps in my journey.
Step 1, I have a problem…not really a step toward being a fan but sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. An overwhelming obsession with John Elway is the first thing you face as an outsider moving to Denver…not saying he isn’t deserving of this…but it is an obsession. Much like the first step to overcoming addiction the first step to becoming a Bronco fan is admitting you have a problem…in this case the problem is you can’t like them.
Step 2, Maybe they have a problem…This step is where you as a Bronco hater keep saying to yourself this can’t be serious. Questions like they can’t seriously think Jake Plummer is that good, do they honestly believe every year whatever undrafted running back shows up to camp is the next Terrell Davis and why do they interview John Elway on the news every time a current Bronco player crosses the street.
Step 3, Denial…This step for me was the 05’06’ season the Broncos made it to the AFC Championship. You reach this step at any point when the Broncos are on the verge of reaching success and you tell yourself this could be the worst thing ever. It may reach the point where you try to determine where to move if this happens. However this provides a glimmer of hope, the moment you realize there might be a higher power and get caught up in the excitement of the city and a playoff run.
Step 4, Confusion?…So here you sit a year removed from getting slightly wrapped up in the hype and find yourself watching every single Broncos game. When they’re winning you wish they were losing, when they’re losing you wish they were winning. What are your allegiances, what do you really want. This is rock bottom, in my mind this is where you either say I could be a fan or you push away and have no hope of obtaining the final 8 steps.
Step 5, Pilgrimage to mecca…No I’m not heading over to the middle east but to a Broncos game at Invesco and this is step 5. In 06’ I went to the game vs. the Colts with a buddy of mine. I have to admit it was pretty cool and I even made the comment that I could see myself becoming a fan. I have to admit I did enjoy the fact that the Colts won and the guy in the stadium that was ranting about Jake Plummers overall record at the top of his lungs was pretty funny too.
Step 6, Someone to believe in…This is step six for me but steps 5 and 6 interchange depending on the timeline and other variables. For me this was Jay Cutler. When he was drafted I saw it as an opportunity to not hear about John Elway. However, he is a guy that is hard not to like, should be a great long term player and provided he doesn’t get smothered by expectations a guy that I can identify my Broncos experience with.
Step 7, Relapse…Reading steps 4-6 your saying to yourself this guy is coming around. I wasn’t. Step 7 the Broncos crash and burn i.e. 06’ and 07’. Your friends are telling you how great Simien Rice is going to be, how Travis Henry has turned the corner and you love every minute of the train wreck. Not a good time for Broncos fans but a time when an outsider sees the more humble side and no matter who you are in life you’ve been there with a team you love and you can better identify with the pain.
Step 8, Optimism…This step actually happened to me the other day in a small way. I sat at JD’s Bait Shop Talking with a buddy and I said I see the Broncos going 11-5 with 10-6 being very realistic in 08’. Some think better or some worse but for me this is as generous a prediction ever for me regarding the Broncos Record. It drew an expression of relief from my drinking cohort as I have been far more successful in recent years in predicting the final record for the Broncos than some. Regardless of the vehicle of your optimism showing it toward the Broncos is step 8.
Step 9, A Fresh Start…As I see it step 9 involves some happy endings and new beginning for the team and for you. Rod Smith retiring is a signal of this step. I wasn’t really paying attention in his best years but listening to that press conference and reading about his career and life were enlightening. I couldn’t help but gain a great respect for him. At the same time we saw a lot of new beginnings with the start of training camp Ryan Clady, Eddie Royal, Ryan Harris. Not sure what the future holds for these and other new players but it’s hard not to get a little excited about the possibilities.
-This is where I would place myself on this journey…in the midst of step 9…from here this is how I see the final three steps and the transformation wrapping up.
Step 10, Understanding…You’ve seen some lows, you’re sympathetic, the negative mentality isn’t as fun and necessary as it once was. Learn more about where your fellow fan is coming from. What has the team and fan been through over the years? Why are they so fanatical about their team? What makes them love all things Broncos? This is a journey of discovery now you’re digging deeper to find out about the team reading message boards and websites like milehighreport.com J.
Step 11, Enjoy the Ride…There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You can sit back relax and watch the Broncos success and enjoy it. You may not purchase your Jay Cutler jersey or do the Mile High Salute with every touchdown but you’re starting to find a good amount of fun in watching the team win, develop and the future of the franchise.
Step 12, Acceptance…Not sure how or when this can be defined but it could take the form of elation from a Superbowl victory, a favorite player on the team, excitement over a big win, or feeling disappointed when there is a lack of success. However this takes shape for you the point is you realize and accept the fact that you are rooting for the Broncos and their success.