I want to apologize ahead of time to the "mothers of America" and their posse who aren't used to the rough speech that dots this article randomly. I also want to apologize for the length... but then I can't really recall ever being praised for brevity. I hope it helps you all appreciate our ugly situation a little more... Negative Nellies and Kool-Aiders alike (and then the rest of the crowd that actually makes up the majority!) :D
So I guess it wasn't the smartest idea to drive back to Denver from Fresno and have to make it a straight shot without stopping at a hotel because I forgot how much traffic would be coming through Sunday. But it worked out, and a pretty stress free drive too; but those 5-hour Energies probably weren't the best thing to shove into my system. CA was in the pleasant 50's the whole stay there (a couple weeks) and storming our way back into below-freezing temperatures with little to no acclimatization probably didn't help. And of course I made the mistake (not really) of wearing only my bright orange Broncos hoodie to stave off those -13 degree stops out in Utah.
I felt it coming early today, achy muscles, sore joints, and that tingly feeling when your skin becomes way more sensitive than it's suppose to be. Needless to say I erupted in a high fever earlier in the night after sleeping a measly two hours. I'm up to about 102 degrees right now, and obviously can't sleep. That's when my mind starts going of on its random tangents that I really can't recall and describe to you all because I have no clue how I got to the odd connection. For those of you who do not know, I am a former Marine (well, once a Marine - always a Marine!) and for some reason thoughts of my time in the military collided face first with the Broncos organization and Tim Tebow's development - I told you it was weird...
C-130 rollin' down the strip,
2nd AD gonna take a little trip.
Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door.
Jump right out and shout: MARINE CORPS!
If my chute don't open wide,
I've got a reserve by my side.
But if that one should fail me too...
Look out Satan i'ma coming for you!
Singing left right left right left right KILL
Left right left right, you know I will!
I know, it's probably pretty cheesy. Most of the time I felt ridiculous chanting that and similar (though much more graphic) cadences as we did unit runs... but every once in a while... they were fun, and they really fired you up. I was a parachute rigger in the Marines, and had a blast (often enough to coat the majority of the crappy times) while I was in. My platoon was never bigger than 30 people and usually dwindled somewhere in the teens most of the time since people often came and went; and we were all very close - I suppose that tend to happen when the guy to your left or right is packing your parachute. The first jumps were scary - especially at jump school in Ft. Benning, GA. But eventually you get used to them and its pretty exciting, there's just that momentary gut-wrenching feel when the light is yellow, but the go washes it all away... because it has too. You can't jack around up there while you're making your exit (or in the sky really either - which we did sometimes) unless you want to get your bicep ripped up to your wrist without breaking the skin (probably the worst injury that I saw first hand during my time - and it was an Army cat, not a Marine).
Our time in bootcamp prepared us well for the rigors of combat training, jump school, and sometimes an MOS school. (I wasn't infantry, so my Military Occupational Specialty school was pretty laid back). It's interesting though because as I think back, boot camp wasn't the majority of my training, but it really was the key.
It gave you a tiny taste of the confusion and chaos of war and pushed you to your mental, physical, and emotional limits and usually beyond. I was just a squirt going in three days after high school graduation weighing a whopping 135 pounds (soaking wet). It was a grueling process and except for a handful of recruits... most of us had to be broken before we could be built up. If you didn't step on the yellow footprints with the intangibles required of a sharp leader and fierce warrior it would be a long and painful process developing them - some slipped through the cracks and never really did.
It was after our time in bootcamp and our MOS schools that we went into the Fleet (an easy word for the small collection of duty stations after our entry level training). That was where the real learning began. Boot camp gave us a taste of what we had to prepare for, and we now had the intangibles to get ourselves there... but pretty much 90% of what you learned about being a Marine before the fleet is near useless. It's the savvy vets that taught us "boots" how to really do our jobs with a less-than-friendly initiation absolutely free! We learned the ins and outs of living that would be the norm for the next three or four years. It was that period of time that truly prepared us to be successful.
If you've made it this far you're probably wondering what the heck this has to do with the Broncos and Tim Tebow. Well, here you go! And I really want to thank McDaniels heartily - not just for drafting the Florida star QB, but for stubbornly refusing to start him over Kyle Orton. "What?! What did he just type?!" you might be thinking right now. "Tebow could be so much further if he was running the show from day one!" You see... Tim's first offseason wasn't even bootcamp yet, it was a welcome to the NFL. It was running your proverbial butt off as a poolee recruit with the bastard that convinced you to sign up with probably 1% of the facts you needed to really make an educated decision. That was nothing. Tebow may have gotten a taste of what it means to be a professional football player - but that wasn't bootcamp. His final three games were bootcamp, Quarterback bootcamp to be specific.
I really want to emphasize how important it was for Tim to both: sit and get that initial experience on the sideline and familiarize himself with the Corps... but moreso the importance of him getting thrown into the fire at the end of the season. That wasn't war ladies and gentlemen. Winning meant something, but there were no playoffs on the line, Tebow wasn't under fire. He was in bootcamp. And we should be very thankful that he got that valuable experience - most NFL QB's don't. Originally I was so pissed about McDaniels early and rather abrupt departure... but it was really a blessing in disguise.
Now Tebow gets a full offseason to train with the vets knowing just slightly what war is going to look and feel like. I'm not sure how much progress he will make, but I have a good feeling he's going to progress incredibly during this first full offseason. He knows what the game is all about and what areas he REALLY needs to work on. Holding a clipboard all year wouldn't have given him that insight, and starting from game one probably wouldn't have been the healthiest introduction into the league either. I am jazzed that things have unfolded the way they have.
You see, we fans didn't really remember (especially the ones as young as me, who began loving the Broncos in their prime) the lows and the real bottom of the barrel emotions that we need to feel to really be orange-and-blue bleeding fans. But I can guarantee you that when we rise back up from the ashes its REALLY going to mean something to us. Just like that first Superbowl meant to the fans who had been watching since the early 60's. Denver's time had finally arrived. It will come again, maybe not next year, or the year after, but eventually it will come - and it will never be so sweet.
Tim Tebow has been given the best launch I think that any Quarterback could ever get. He didn't start with a ton of star players around him, he didn't get thrown into the fire and 40 sacks (not that he'd ever let himself get hit that much) behind a developing line all year long. He also didn't get stuck carrying Kyle Orton's clipboard all year without an ounce of solid QB action. He's got that now, and he has the intangibles to rise up to unknown levels. I sure hope he does, and I really believe he will. There's just a drive to him that won't accept failure. At the very worst he'll be a solid QB we can build around and prepare for the next epic run... but I have a good feeling he's going to be a crucial part of that run and not just a stepping stone.
So again, thanks McDaniels. You had the balls (some say stupidity, but I don’t roll like that) to draft a guy that few would dare to take so high. You had the balls to gut this team of complainers and players who had no idea what the playoffs were or how to push through them. You ransacked the roster, and potentially drafted a good beginning corps of offensive players. The defense still needs more than a bit of work, but that's not your MOS, so I won't hold it against you. I'm looking forward to this next season with more hope than I probably should. I don't know how many of you feel the same way - but if you do... the next round of Kool-Aid is on me!