Greetings Fellow Bronco Fans,
I’m in the military and my family and I are stationed in Rhode Island. I have been a Bronco fan my entire life and my children have been raised as Bronco fans. My wife is English, but over the years has become a die hard fan as well. That being said, out of the last 9 years, we’ve lived in New England for 6 of them, and have also become Patriot fans, although not at the level of the Broncos. Imagine our excitement when the Broncos beat the Steelers to earn a trip to Gillette Stadium to face the Patriots? Our two favorite teams battling it out for the privilege of advancing to the AFC Championships. After the Steeler game, my wife purchased the best tickets we could afford. Our seats were right behind the Bronco bench, 5 rows back. It was, after all, a once in a lifetime experience. Needless to say, we were beyond thrilled. We had the chance to see Tebow and Brady, as well as the rest of the teams. The week leading up to the game was a whirlwind of excitement. The Broncos were very much the underdogs, but we were determined to support them. We made a sign, gathered our Bronco gear and our children painted their faces. As we drove to the game, our children displayed the sign with pride, and we had a lot of fun with Patriots’ fans heading to the game as well. Once we arrived at the stadium and found our seats behind the Bronco bench, we continued to share a lot of friendly banter with the Patriots’ fans, and even saw some Bronco fans as well. My children held the sign proudly and we cheered the Broncos and Patriots during warmups. The experience was thrilling, wonderful, and all we could hope for. We were all on cloud nine. And then the game began. Yes, the Broncos played poorly, but the way my family was treated by fans was appalling. While there were a few “friendly” fans around us, the majority were rude and obnoxious. Not towards the Broncos, but towards us. How dare we invade the sanctity of their stadium to cheer for the other team. My 14-year-old son was mocked and taunted in an angry, ugly fashion as he went to the restroom. He was pushed and shoved as he went up the stairs and at one point had food thrown on him. My 11-year-old daughter daughter was told to sit down and shut up and was given the finger by a grown adult, yes a grown adult. At one point a group of adults were flipping her off while she held her sign, while others took pictures of it all and laughed. I stepped in to best of my ability, as did my wife, but due to the shear numbers of those around us, there wasn’t much we could do. That being said, we persevered and stayed to support our team. Unfortunately, as the game progressed it continued to get worse. My wife and I were beginning to get a bit concerned that something more than hurt feelings and embarrassment would occur. We actually felt threatened and at the beginning of the fourth quarter, we decided to leave. The walk back to the car was an adventure as well. The entire way we were taunted and yelled at. Groups behind us followed close behind and jeered. We had beer bottles kicked at our feet as we walked along. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we were on edge the entire time. Needless to say I'm pretty amazed at the appalling behavior of many Patriots’ fans. Their anger and hatred was palatable and I can't believe it was actually directed at my family, and especially my children. To say that we are devastated is an understatement. We had a once in a lifetime opportunity to see two wonderful teams, our two favorite teams, battle it out at a playoff game. Instead, the experience was a disaster because we were wearing the wrong colors. How do we explain this behavior and experience to our children? This wasn’t over politics, religion, war or anything at that level. It was a game. My wife and I are struggling with the guilt that we put our children in that situation. I don’t know if this sort of thing happens elsewhere - I’m not not naive and I imagine it does. I’ve heard about incidences of violence occurring at games, but I always imagined it was mutual, in that both sides wanted it. We were a peaceful family of four that just wanted to go to a game and support the visiting team. The fact that this happens anywhere is beyond comprehension and appalling to say the least. It is absolutely embarrassing and shows a sad state of priorities held by many people. I dread to think what would have happened if the Broncos had won. But, at the end of the day, not once did we take off our Bronco colors, take the orange off our faces, stop cheering for our team, or hide our sign. Hopefully this letter will bring awareness to those who can help combat this problem. Without a doubt, it is a problem that needs to be addressed.