Think back, in some cases way back, to the very first time you walked into the stadium of your favorite team...(I hope it is the Broncos) What emotions did you feel? What went through your head? What went through your heart? One week from today, I will get to answer those questions for myself...
I grew up in Winnipeg Canada. For those that don't know much about Winnipeg, or Canada, it's cold, it's very flat, but we are passionate about our sports. My dad started taking me to see the Winnipeg Jets (now the Pheonix Coyotes) for as long as I can remember. I don't recall the first time I ever saw them play, but I have countless memories growing up watching them live. I cheered for the team, I cried for them, I was crushed when they packed up and left for the desert. The only thing that compares to my love for that team is my love for the Broncos. (Editors note: I don't care about the Coyotes, when they left Winnipeg, they checked their history at the airport and didn't look back, nor did I)
Now I'm sure some of you will be asking, what does this have to do with the Broncos, and how does heading to Mile High to see a live game fit in??? Well, first a bit of background. Nobody in my family is a fan of any NFL team (they're all Canadian Football League fans), so I wasn't born into cheering for a specific team. When I was about 7, (back in the mid-80s) my parents took me and my sister on a road trip to Arizona and New Mexico during spring break. We were heading through Colorado, it was cold, I was expecting sun and fun (my buddy was off to Disney in Florida!). To shut me up, my parents pulled over at some mall on the outskirts of Denver and told me I could buy some stuff if only I would stop complaining. I loaded up on a ton of Broncos gear. A little white football (my 3 year old daughter loves to throw it and was saying GOOOOO BRONCOOOOS at just over 1 year!), pens, flags, shirts, a hat, pretty much everything but a jersey left the store under my arms. From that moment forward, I have been a fanatic. Growing up following the team in monday newspapers and the occasional game of the week (the internet has been amazing!) was difficult to say the least. But I would read through the box scores, imagine what had happened, cheer or yell at my team in my own little way. I was a fan on an island, surrounded by strangers, none of whom shared my passion for the Broncos.
As the years passed, my love for the team only grew. Living in Paris (France) during our second Superbowl was tough, I "watched" the game online, following delayed written play by play. I cheered (you can imagine what the locals must have thought) when we scored, mumbled when we gave up plays, but I wasn't about to give up the chance to celebrate (alone once again) a second straight win.
With Direct TV, the NFL network and the best fan site in the world (this one!!!!), it's been pretty easy to follow the Broncos for the last few years. I've lived outside of Detroit (in Canada) since 2000, and both times we played agaist the Lions, I went home for the holidays and couldn't get to the game. A couple of road trips to Chicago and Indy fell through (I'm glad the indy trips didn't work out, I would have been devestated to lose..again..to Manning and co.) This all leads me to where I am right now, 7 days from seeing my team LIVE, in DENVER, at MILE HIGH (ok, Inves...) I will finally be going "home"...
My wife and I are heading to Denver for the weekend. We've got our tickets, we're packed for the weather (I was hoping for snow, but I'm glad the forecast is clear and sunny, I'm worried about how well our O-line will do when the temp goes below 32.) I have no idea what to expect. What time should I show up at the game, what is the tailgating like, what will I feel when I walk through the concourse and see the field with my own eyes for the first time, what will happen when I see the team take the field, only feet away from me? So many questions, and only 7 days till I have the answers.
Most fans never remember the first time they see their team; they've "always" seen them. I honestly don't remmeber the first time I saw them on tv... But I promise Broncos nation this: I will never forget the first time I see them live, at Mile High! I'll be the crazy canuck if you're looking for me.
Thanks to all of those who took the time to read my story. If you have any suggestions on restaurants, on where I should go to tailgate (never tailgated before - the Lions fans aren't the same), on proper tailgate ettiquete, or on things to do while in Denver (other than cheer my voice away), I will be grateful.
Cheers! and GO BRONCOS!!!