Do you remember when the Denver Broncos were the underdogs? I do and it is a big reason why I am here. I remember when our team would only get as far as John Elway could carry them. The Broncos always struggled to be relevant in an era where the NFC dominated the league and there was no such thing as free agency. I remember even a little further back when our team had a young, hot-shot QB that had trouble getting it right. He had a cannon for an arm and would sometimes throw it to the team wearing the opposite color. He even lined up to take a snap from under guard at one point. I fell in love with those underdogs. I wanted to root for them because they were never expected to do well, but always seemed to be in the thick of things anyway. I became a Broncos fan because I have always had a weakness for the underdog. But, all good things come to an end, sadly enough.
Like most of us who have been around for a while, I have tasted the sweet sucess of my team winning not one, but two Lombardi trophies. I have seen expectation climb up into the realms of ridiculous. Suddenly, my team was on the other end of the spectrum of where I was used to being as a fan. It was a blessing and a curse at the same time. The reasons I loved this team were no longer valid. I found myself becoming more and more like the fan of an elite team. I had seen what a winner looks like. Then that winner started to decline. I was one of those Broncos fans who bought in, wholesale, the mantra Shanahan was selling: We're just a few players away from getting the glory back. Boy was I wrong to believe that.
And then, 2010 happened, and all the pain and disgrace that went with it. Our hero coach had been deposed, and the usurper was calling the shots. That season didn't end well, but it reminded me what it was like to be a Broncos fan before the big trophies landed in the case. The few pieces away mentality took a back seat to curiosity of what will happen next. I knew what a winner was suppose to look like at our favorite position, and Kyle Ortonlooked nothing like those expectations. Neither did the guy we traded a fan favorite for, nor did the guy the usurper felt the need to mortgage several picks to land in the first round of the draft. I wanted to return to the elite again, I had become what I despised when I began rooting for the Broncos in the first place, I was a snob fan. I was that way up until the bitter end of the usurper. I then saw something on the field that had been missing since the Broncos had last played in the tournament. I saw intensity on the field and a player that would do anything to will his team to a win. I saw a young rookie play with the fire that had been missing from this team for so long. I saw an underdog going out and competing against all the odds. So, that's what it was like all those years ago?
Then in 2011, it was over, just as quickly as it had began. An attempt to trade Orton failed and our new old-school coach went with the known commodity instead of risking it all on the young guy with competitive fire. I didn't like the move, but I understood it. Then Orton collapsed, making way for the underdog once again. And once again, I was shocked and amazed. I was in awe following an improbable run that got my team back into the playoffs. The kid with the ugly mechanics had won me over. He was a Bronco, he was an underdog, he was the embodiment of why I started watching Broncos football in the first place. I love it when the underdogs win.
March Nineteenth, 2012 is going to be a day long remembered in Broncos history. As a Bronco fan, I hope the day is remembered for all the right reasons and not the wrong ones. I hope the Broncos don't end up like the Jets did with Brett Farve or the Redskins did with Donovan McNabb. All of a sudden, my team has gone from being an underdog to being a contender, on paper at least. I will watch, because I am sure I have watched through much harder times. I am happy that my team has to be considered as a contender, at least for now. I am also saddened to see that the fire and magic of the 2011 Broncos will be put out in favor of the quick and easy road to glory. All us old time fans know that the destination is great, but the journey is quite rewarding as well. What can you do in the era of free agency and instant gratification? I hope this move works better than my gut is telling me it will. I hope for the sake of my favorite team that I am wrong and another Lombardi is in our not too distant future. History is not on our side, and sadly, it looks like we'll lose the underdog as well.