237 hours, 27 minutes 15 seconds till kickoff…
Here, now, waiting, waiting, waiting for the start of Super Bowl XLVII I am in complete and utter agony. It’s strange, this being the best possible outcome I could hope for, you’d expect a little less anxiety and edginess. My team fought valiantly, earning the right to compete for the NFL championship. A normal person would simply be excited. Happy for the team that took us to the mountaintop after 15 years of drought. Happy for an amazing comeback story in Peyton Manning and happy for a record setting season full of amazing highlights and memories. That’s what a football fan is supposed to do, along with planning a very detailed Super Bowl party complete with orange cupcakes, orange silly string and an orange horse piñata (face painting is optional). But to me it’s much more personal, much more important and deep seeded. Much more excruciatingly painful to think about.
The next game means so much more than the last 18 ever will. Or the last 250 ever did. I think of little else these days. I’m half useless at work or when I try to play with my son. My brain just keeps ticking, ‘237 hours 13 minutes till kickoff...’ I’ve purposely avoided ESPN and sports radio for fear that a random comment about the Seahawks secondary will send my mind spiraling into a vortex of X’s and O’s- possible matchups and game scenarios. As though I could somehow share my mental homework with John Fox thru telepathy and help seal the victory.
237 hours, 11 minutes 55 seconds till kickoff…
It’s stupid, I know. Way, obsessively, frighteningly stupid. Just as stupid as when we lost to the Ravens in the playoffs last year and I took it like the death of a family member. Stupid. Annoying even. And yet somehow completely out of my control.
I confess that this means more to me than anything I can remember over the last fifteen years (other than the birth of my child, thank god). It grips me with a passion that hurts- similar to the hurt that I felt as a 13 year old boy fallen hopelessly in love for the first time. It’s poetically tragic if not downright pathetic.
And because I see no other option that to finally face the truth, I’ve come to accept that Bronco football has somehow melded with my DNA. I have crossed the line of simple fandom into the zone where I live, die, eat and breathe with my team. I think this is what Dr. Drew calls addiction.
The mutation started years ago on cold Sunday mornings in suburban Northglenn. There was snow on the purple mountains and articles about Elway and the boys in the Post. Afternoons spent in crowded basements watching the games. Obsessive uncles that swore them off every November but for some reason kept watching. Local Mexican restaurants with posters of the Three Amigos on the wall. This was the childhood of most Denver area kids in the 80’s and 90’s. But I have to believe that many walked away with only fond memories and a team to call their own for future seasons. The minority, those of us that needed more from our one sided relationship with the Broncos ended up here, this awful agonizing place with sweaty palms, racing thoughts, fragile egos and 236 hours, 35 minutes and 33 seconds till kickoff.
It’s not that I fear the Seahawks. This could be any team (well okay, I guess I’d feel better if by some act of god the Buccaneers made it to the Super Bowl, but you get my point). This has much less to do with them than this fleeting moment, this shot at football immortality. We know how seldom this comes around. We know what it feels like to lose this game, and even on two amazing occasions, what it feels like to win. And I want that feeling again. I’d do almost anything for that feeling again. Maybe if I could suit up with the team and practice. To somehow help the cause, or at least feel like some sort of effort on my part would help our chances. Maybe if I squint my eyes really hard and wish evil upon Richard Sherman I can make a difference. Maybe if I cared a little bit more…
So I write this fan post first as a distraction- something to think about other than how cold it will be in New York on February 2nd, or how hard Marshawn Lynch will run or what the implications of a loss means to Peyton Manning’s reputation. Second as an outlet- a place to put all this pent up anxiety and nervous energy. And 3rd, to reach out to others like me. You are not alone my friends. As you sweat and pace, as you snap at coworkers for no reason and stare blankly at the wall while your family tries to hold a nice dinner conversation, know that we are in this together. We are cohabitants in this thing called Broncomania. And now may seem like hell, but if we win it will feel euphoric. If we win it will feel as though our own personal efforts somehow made a difference. If we win we can cling to it until the next chance at greatness comes along.
I can’t wait. I just don’t know what I’ll do with myself for the next 233 hours, 47 minutes and 3 seconds.