A few months ago, just a week or so before the first Kansas City game, I returned home to visit my parents. My parents live in Colorado, nestled in the beautiful San Luis Valley. My wife and I went to visit them to have them meet their granddaughter, whom they have never seen before.
What I thought would just be a typical family meeting became so much more. My life will forever be different because of this. Also, I realized something about our beloved Franchise.
Let's jump to it!
I remember it so clearly, it's almost as if it happened just yesterday. I'm driving the car with my wife and daughter and just begin to pull into my Father's ranch. I see my wife's eyes brighten just a little as she takes in the new sights. You see, my wife was born and raised in California, so the sights of so many animals was something new to her.
Just as we pull into the driveway, my mother immediately ran out of the house to greet us. My father, on the other hand, remained a little more composed and instead just waited for us to come to him at the doorway.
While I stand at 6 foot 4 inches and my father only at 5 foot 10 inches, there is no other man that I look up to more then him.
While I stood there, shaking his hand, I saw a look in his eyes that I had not seen in quite some time--pride. That was when I was expecting some sort of profound fatherly wisdom to be imparted upon me. Instead all he said was, "I need some help."
Soon after I placed all of my and my wife's belongings in my old room, we talked with my parents and caught them up on current things that had been going on in our lives. About work, and our daughter, e.t.c.
This is how I was expecting the entire trip to be. To my surprise my father placed his hands on my shoulder, handed my some gloves, pointed to an old cowboy hat and boots, and said, "I told you I need some help."
It turns out that he did not need "some help." He needed a lot of help. I spent the better part of the week fixing fences, giving vaccinations to the livestock to help prevent the spread of disease, I had to clean and sanitize milking equipment, storage tanks, collection cups, and cows' udders, or ensure that procedures are followed to maintain sanitary conditions for handling of milk. Among many other things.
I moved out of the house almost immediately after graduating High School. I went to California and received my degree at San Diego Sate University. (where I meet my wife.) Upon receiving my degree in Sport Psychology, I moved to Parker, Colorado. Needless to say, it had been quite some time since I had been forced to do such laborious work--and it showed.
I would do much of the work while my father sat on his horse and told me what to do. At one point he became very angry because I could not get something right, no matter how many times he explained it to me. At which point this 68 year old man jumped off his horse and corrected my mistake in a matter of just seconds. He said that I had been spoiled by city life and that my hands had became "soft." He only shook his head in disappointment. I could not seem to shake the feeling of embarrassment.
Finally, it seemed as if our work was done. We returned to the house and were informed that my older brother has just finished his second tour in Iraq and he would be there to visit us the next day. I became very excited, as I had not seen my brother in almost a year. My Father, however, seemed to be the most excited. I feel guilty about it now, but at the time I was a little mad because my dad seemed to be more ecstatic about seeing my brother then he had been about seeing his granddaughter. (I know now that that was the furthest thing from the truth.)
Soon enough my older brother, Eric showed up at the house. The first thing that he did when he stepped out of his car was throw an football at me, which I caught. Pointing his finger at me he shouted, "there's my receiver!" You see, during my Sophomore year in High School and his Senior, we won the State Championship with him as QB and me as WR. (I switched to TE in college.)
We embraced and began to talk about "the good 'ol days," and most importantly--the Broncos.
That was when my father walked up, greeted my brother, then presented us with the reins for two horses. He explained that the three of us, supposedly for "old times sake," were going to the mountains on a cattle drive.
Even though the thoughts ran through my mind, I was not the first to say it--Eric was. He pointed out that he had just returned home, that he was still tired from his long flight, that he had not even yet seen mom or my wife, Dawna. Upon hearing that, my father gave a tiny grumble, but promised that we were going to go on the cattle drive. He reminded us that he was getting older and that he had no hired help on the Ranch--that he did all the work himself and how nice it was to have his two sons back helping him.
Almost immediately after Eric talked with our mother and my wife, my Father ushered us out the door and onto the horses. It was a long trek, but eventually we made it to the mountains. Again, we all talked, mainly about football; more specifically Broncos football.
When we had to let the cattle rest, the three of us threw the football around. My father surprised me, he showed that he still has the great arm that made him a 3 time state champion in Texas. It was here that my father pointed something out to me. It was that the Broncos were not operating as a team. Not just on the field, but the Front Office as well. He pointed out that football, by nature, is a team sport--it takes more then one person to win it.
It is, in reality, a simple concept. But those are basic truths that many people often times forget or ignore. We all plead for that "special guy" or the "hot coach" thinking that they alone will help our team win a Championship. However, while those particular people people may make a difference, unless the entire team works together as a team, the ultimate goal will never be realized.
The same is true of the FO. Under the McDaniels tenure, the Broncos did not work as a fluid group. He was in charge overall all decisions. This was a mistake. It makes me happy to see that Fox seems to understand this concept. I see brighter days ahead for the Broncos. However, that may be because I am looking through my Orange colored glasses...
Back to my story. It was there in the mountains that my father showed me this simple truth, it was also here that he revealed the news that would change my life forever....
My father revealed to us that he pushed so hard for us to go on the cattle drive with him was because he wanted to tell us something. He told the two of us that he had Pancreatic Cancer, and that it had spread rapidly. He said that he did not have a high chance of surviving. I will not waste your time with the advice that he gave me, but I will say that it has changed my life and I am a much better person for it.
I'm writing this in Denver International Airport again about to return home. However this time, I will not be able to see my Father. Just yesterday I was informed that, although he fought valiantly, he had lost his battle with cancer.
I will always be grateful for everything that he did for me. The advice he gave me. He taught me much about football, and helped open my eyes to the simple truth of team work.
I hope that you all enjoyed the story--I'm sorry that I went personal, but it was a way to help me get over it. I thank you MHR,