A wicked awesome greeting to you, my Broncos brethren and sistren.
It is long overdue, but with a newborn and working to support a family of four, three dogs and a cat, life has been busy to say the least. What follows is my experience and some perspective of the numerous days I attended training camp.I'm very glad I was able to attend this year. This was my third year straight making it to training camp. My idea was to at least make it to opening day and the Mile High scrimmage each year, with as many days as possible otherwise. It will likely be the last year I'm able to afford to make the trip from Wichita, for monetary reasons explained before the jump.
For those who've never been, it is definitely worth the trip. All sessions are free, and you are sitting directly on the sideline (that is, unless it was this year, or a few of the days last year - then you may have been sitting a few yards back from the West field, or if really busy the East field's end zone). To give you a better idea, you are as far away from the players on the field as if you were at a game, sitting on the bench on the sideline. Waaay better than front row seats at a game. Well, way closer anyway. Also surprising, to buy a bottle of water/soda at the stand on the North end of the complex, it was only $1!!! Not $3 or $5. That was cool too, given how much a beverage at a game is. I always bring a cooler and my own hydration, but that surprised me nonetheless.
When you come in, you sit along the West side of the (West) field. As Kirk's posts mention, there are two practice fields, and the players typically do most of the stuff on the West field. Technically there are three fields, one is to the North, immediately upon entering Dove Valley, but I've only seen kickers use it. The East field is typically where the second/third/fourth teamers practice, or ST's. But both the East and West fields are used by all players at some point (i.e. when first teamers are doing 11 on 11's, 2nd/3rd/4th teamers are doing stuff on the East field, and vice versa). Here's what it looked like (this was, the record breaking, opening day - 7/26) when there were so many people we were shuffled all the way to the South end of the East field :
Especially given my crappy camera, it makes it look further than it is, but still, this is the worst place to have to watch practice.
This year I made it to eight days of camp. I only have a camera phone so the pictures are not the greatest quality, and only two decent 'close ups'. I'm sure all of you reading have seen at least some, if not all, of Kirk's "Kaptain's Log" posts on his training camp visits. Not to discourage from reading further, but this will not be anywhere near as awesome, as he took notes, all that follows is straight from memory. Here's a pic of Kirk's notebook (bottom right), with Manning and Decker talking on the sideline:
You may have heard of the prankster Manning had been at camp. He did it twice. What happened was he had a water bottle, the kind that has a spigot to squeeze the bottle and squirt water from, and he covertly unscrewed the lid on one, handed it to an unknowing young fan and told him if he wanted a drink, he had to chug it. Of course the kid is willing to do anything Peyton tells him to, and water pours all over the kid. Laughter ensues... I'm sure anyone would have welcomed the same on themselves, especially considering how hot the days were. Here's a pic just after that, when as far as I could tell, this was the kid he did it to, coming up to him. Don't know what transpired here, but... :
It was awesome to hang with Kirk as much as possible. I brought my step-daughter who adores the Broncos (I am not sure if it's entirely my fault but I'm not complaining ;) - She knows about MHR and after the first day we spent with Kirk, she asks me "So we were hanging out with someone famous?" Kirk and I had some chuckles about that. You might have seen the other day in the Tracks... I'll be getting her a Kirk Davis autographed Broncos ball for Christmas. ( ;
My step-daughter's very first Broncos autograph was none other than Elvis Dumervil. If you don't know what it's like trying to get autographs at a busy session of training camp, you may not want to know. I'm sure you can imagine. You have to push your way forth, through the throng of people, most are not entirely considerate. Some are. After a day of training camp is complete, they bring out a yellow rope that extends all the way down the West field's sideline, and once they lift it up (yes, staff members hold it up with their hands) every one pushes as close as possible. Once I saw Elvis coming our way, I said aloud "Okay, whoever is just trying to get an autograph just so they can sell it on ebay, move to the back". I got a couple chuckles and a couple scowls. I figure the scowls came from those attempting to do just that. Anyway, I urged my step-daughter closer any time a gap opened. Finally she got her Broncos footbal magnet signed. I then whipped out my shiny blue Broncos autograph ball that I fortunately got Von Miller to sign last year, and was trying to get the other end signed by Elvis. Didn't happen. But still, good times.
Here's a pic of Decker squaring off against Champ, Manning throwing :
And just after, Decker and Bailey on their way back :
Here's one of the Defensive backs looking on, on some passing drills. Behind that FG post in the back is the South end of the East field, where we sat opening day (first pic of the post) :
Manning warming up with Decker, before they put uni's or pads on :
And here's why I won't mind if We don't keep Syd'Quan... Okay it's not the only reason, but it sure adds to my displeasure. At the opening of practice on 07/28 they had the jugs machine going and ST units were practicing catching punts/kickoffs from it. Very first one that goes to Squid bounces off his knee. Other than that, he caught every one, and had a good practice besides. However, we got autographs from him at the end, and I said "Great practice, except for that first kick, that bounced off your knee"...
To which he responded "Must have been someone else. I had a perfect practice". He said it all contritely, and with such a better than thou attitude. It really made me sick. I almost said "Oh, there's more than one guy wearing number 21 today?" But I figured he'd hear about it from the coaches, and plus, why bother? Let him be the big man. Wouldn't have been a good influence to the young'uns around, or my step-daughter. But I took a picture of him anyway :
Not much else to report, I already feel like this is way longer than most would want it to be. I suppose if you just scrolled through to look at the pics, it was still worth it (hopefully). Another thing I meant to mention that was cool, was when Prater and Colquitt were on the East field, Prater was fielding some of Colquitt's punts, which I found amusing. And cool. To end on a good note, here's a pic I took of Champ during the 2010 Training Camp, when he stood right in front of me, on the sideline. I am still amazed at how skinny his calf muscles are!
Hope I provided some insight for those of you who have never been, and some good thoughts for all. I love this place and this was the least I could do after being privileged enough to be able to attend training camp for my third straight year, and privileged enough to be a part of this great community We have at MHR.
Thanks for reading/looking at the pictures and as always, GO BRONCOS!!!