Playing football for the sheer joy of putting maximal effort into a few second, pitting one's self against another's maximal resistance, and sharing that effort with 10 other team mates with one goal, to move the chains forward and over the goal is the nirvana of sports. Much of this experience is lost these days as the result of the "look at me" individual mentalities ( certainly at the pro level) and the commitment to "how much money am 'I" worth?" (and it's NEVER enough) by both owner and player. We as fans have contributed to this loss of purity in our own way with our "instant gratification" expectations garnered with Free Agency, the often unrealistic expectations of draft picks producing at an all-star level in their first year, and the throw the bums away if they don't. Whatever happened to playing for the joy of playing and putting the "team" first?"
The answer after the jump
Why, it's Pee Wee Football of course!! The joy of coaching these little guys, discovering "my god, they don't even know what a 'three point stance' is", and jumping before the snap count is a given for each new coach to overcome. I remember trying to teach one little guy, so small his helmet could spin around on his head without disturbing his ears, how to cut block (legally) a bigger opponent. In order to teach the technique this "old coach" instructed the little guy to "hit me as hard as you can, knock the hell out of me". Well, another little fella came up to me and said "I want to knock the hell out of you too", stated with a burning desire to do so mind you. "Okay" I said, but one of you hit my drag leg 1st (the one that the opponent has to pick up first to apply his block) and the other hit me high". Now you have to understand the WHOLE team is watching by now and with that incentive they fully applied the "knock the hell out of me" instruction, knocing me completely off my feet and onto my derriere! The whole team erupted in a cheer that could be herded all way to main street, which was really only four small city blocks away, but it makes the story more interesting. Anyway, the whole point of this little story was the team unity that was achieved that day and the smile on this Pee Wee coach's face a decade after the event in recanting it.
On another occasion one of the assistant coaches on the team came up and whispered quietly that the biggest player on our team was a "marsh mellow" and would never make a football player. This was followed by his father telling me his son was "somewhat of a wusse" and that he had little expectation that he would stick the season out. What true coach wouldn't take that as the ULTIMATE challenge. At first I had to look for anything worthy of praise even if it had to be invented. He "knocked the hell out of his coach" on a regular basis as we worked on building this kid's picture of how he saw himself. Then, in a game one day he threw a key block down field that may or may not have been THE key factor in our scoring a touch down but it certainly was loudly played that way. The whole bench roared their approval of his effort. The bottom line?, this young boy became the best blocking lineman I ever coached.
This ladies and gentlemen was playing the game for the RIGHT reasons, coach and player alike. Can the Broncos and their fans achieve a semblance of this spirit nowadays and resurrect the old Mile High Magic and Orange Crush days of yesteryear? You bet your sweet booties Grannie!!! It starts with signing this Dadgum CBA agreement. If they don't I'm going to go watch some PEE WEE FOOTBALL!!!