Hello, MHR! It's been a while since we last spoke... far too long, actually. Though you haven't heard from me in a while, I have been keeping an eye on you all this time. After all, this is the premier source for Denver Broncos news and opinion on the Internet, and I've been part of this community since way back when. Some of you know who I am and others yet might vaguely remember me, but this message is not necessarily directed at that (by now) rather limited subgroup of the members. I think that, in explaining my sudden and unfortunately extended hiatus from this site, we might all once again be reminded of what makes this place great to begin with. Follow me below the fold and I'll tell you how!
I stumbled upon SB Nation over five years ago, looking for a better way to follow my favorite baseball team - the Atlanta Braves - finding it in Talking Chop. Two months later, I became the 130th member of Mile High Report, SB Nation's then-fledgling Denver Broncos site. Run by the very same John Bena who now oversees this Internet Leviathan we call home, it quickly became one of my favorite places on The Web. I've watched as MHR has not only expanded, but evolved into something that is both bigger and better than any of us could have ever expected. For a while, I was even privileged with posting front page articles alongside some of the same great writers that run the site today. Then, suddenly, I stopped and left.
Like much of the Old Guard, I had already been through the First Schism (Plummer v. Cutler) by the time MHR was cast into a Second Civil War of sorts, otherwise known as the McD Era. I was an unabashed supporter of the McDaniels administration in Denver. I had called for the firing of Mike Shanahan at least a year before it finally happened. I agreed with the decisions to trade the likes of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, and even praised the returns we were able to secure for both. I lauded almost all of his draft picks, even the most controversial ones like Knowshon Moreno and Tim Tebow. I basked in the light of his scorching hot start and recoiled from the vitriol that flooded in as that winning tide ebbed. I was shocked by his sudden firing and repulsed by the consensus approval of that decision from all corners. I was at a loss for words, and then, I was gone.
Rather than rage against the dying of the light and feed the discord further, I decided to take a step back. What started out as an unintended bit of radio silence became an open-ended hiatus. I correctly predicted that McDaniels would be replaced by John Fox (the NFL likes polar-opposite hires) and I wondered what new shape my beloved Broncos would take. I hoped that the new administration might continue along the general path that McD had blazed - the complete rebuilding of a decayed franchise - and that they might stumble upon the same creative direction that Josh himself had actually set out on. I feared the worst, hoped for the best, and expected something in between. That fence-straddling, however, turned out to be more precarious than I had expected.
The Broncos went into 2011 looking like a team that: at best, could narrowly avoid another disastrous losing season, at worst would be entering the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes, and most likely would play poorly enough to land just outside of the premium slots at the top of the draft. It seemed John Fox, John Elway, and Brian Xanders would forsake everything that McDaniels had done in favor of building something all of their own. Not only would this seal McD's fate in the annals of Broncos history as their biggest failure (and condemn his supporters to similar disdain) but it would set the franchise back years in exchange for just the chance that the new guys knew better. But then, irony of ironies, the same fan groundswell that I believe ultimately washed McDaniels out of Denver forced the EFX regime to turn to Josh's ultimate lightning rod: Tim Tebow.
At 1-4 and with little hope for improvement, Denver's fans proved too impatient to allow for EFX to damn the present and flush out the roster slowly to rebuild at their own pace. If the Broncos were going to lose, then they might as well empty out the arsenal and go down fighting. Finally, McDaniels' last card would be played, if only by his successors, and his legacy would be buoyed along with the Broncos season and future. We all know the rest of that story - whose ending is still thankfully unwritten - so I won't ramble on about it any further. But what I will add is my own footnote: the turnaround this season brought closure to a painful chapter in our shared history with a positive note and the promise of more happy endings yet to come. And that brings me back to MHR, both as my intended topic for this piece and quite literally to post it here for all of you.
You see, this season in Denver Broncos football is a lot like Mile High Report: slow starts are met by ever greater winning streaks, discord rarely degenerates into strife and always results in greater unity and harmony, and the future is somehow always brighter than the shining past. Now that the Josh McDaniels Era in which I was so heavily invested can be looked back upon as just another link in the solid chain that is Broncos history (rather than a Dark Age or black spot on our record), I feel free to return to MHR and share in the spoils with you all. After all, we are all Broncos fans, and there is no better place for any of us to be than right here, together. Go Broncos!