Ok, I know the Denver-KC game didn't go exactly as Broncos fans expected. Not even close. We wanted a blowout, not a heart attack.
And sure, there were plenty of things to complain about - a gazillion third-down conversions by the Chiefs; a game that was almost lost by offside penalties (are you kidding me?); the Chiefs' $45 million quarterback had time to count his money before throwing the ball; and some costly penalties brought back 55-yard play by Demaryius Thomas as well as a pick six by Aqib Talib. And that third quarter, the one where our offense was on the bench? So frustrating.
But I also went to that game with my kids, who got to go to their first "live game" (as they like to say) and got to do it at Mile High. That's pretty awesome.
Looking back on the experience from their perspective, a few other things occurred to me - and they are anything but complaints.
It's really great to cheer for a team with a long tradition of winning.
Broncos named to preliminary @ProFootballHOF list: Elam (1st yr), R. Smith, Nalen, Davis, Mecklenburg, Atwater, Lynch, Schlereth, Reeves.— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) September 17, 2014
We have lost more Super Bowls than we've won, but we have gone to seven. That's seven AFC Championships.
We have records galore, and with Manning at the helm, we are sure to have many, many more.
We have four players in the Hall of Fame with a bunch who deserve to go soon (especially one spectacular running back we all know and love). That legacy should not be taken for granted.
In any given year, it requires beating insurmountable odds to make it to that final game. With injuries, loss of good players to free agency, starting over on "team chemistry" with great but still unfamiliar rookies and free agents...it's a wonder teams make it to the Super Bowl once, let alone two or three times, in a decade.
We are a spoiled bunch - and I'm OK with that!
Being surrounded by tens of thousands of excited fans is a not as common as you might think, but ... IT. IS. AWESOME.
I've been to several away games for the Broncos and in many cases felt like the "Broncos section" was stronger than the home team fans and certainly a lot more dedicated over the long haul (looking at you, Seattle).
On the way to the Kansas City game, my 4-year-old said, "Mommy, I just saw my fourth Broncos fan."
I stopped short of laughing because in his world - which is generally the South Carolina beaches - that's like an entire city. And in that assessment, he was correct.
I cannot even describe his amazement when we walked into Mile High or later when we walked onto the field to bring out the American Flag. Priceless.
The Broncos celebrate their past really, really well.
And...it's official, Rick Upchurch forever at Mile High! #Broncos #RingOfFame pic.twitter.com/mPrwrEelzD— Laurie Volkmann (@docllv) September 14, 2014
The Ring of Fame display is magnificent. Thank you again, Pat Bowlen, for making that happen.
But more important was the way the Broncos highlighted the greats at the game.
The halftime presentation featured videos with highlights of each person's career and a brief message from the Ring of Fame recipient before unveiling their names in the stadium. What a rewarding experience for Gene Mingo, Rick Upchurch and Dan Reeves.
Celebrating legacies is a good reminder to current players and fans why we play the game and why we love it - win or lose.
When Rick Upchurch got his ring, I told my 7-year-old that when I was his age, I got No. 80's autograph. Calvin got a huge smile and said, "And I'm 7, and I got an autograph too!"
Too bad you can't bottle that unbridled enthusiasm.
Winning a nail-biter is the most satisfying win ever. Ever.
#Broncos WIN #Broncos WIN #Broncos WIN !!! https://t.co/MSbkJSbyUL— Laurie Volkmann (@docllv) September 16, 2014
Say what you will about the KC game, but winning in final minutes and having to do it with our backs against the wall, brings such euphoria that it erases the anguish of the rest of the game.
I know, I know. Many of you think you disagree with me on that point. A comfortable and dominating lead would make us more confident and ultimately enjoy the experience more, right? Had we lost, I'd let you continue with that line of thinking.
But for sports fans, dramatic wins in the last minute are intoxicating. The relief and sheer joy you feel as a fan rivals no other feeling. Remember how you felt after John Mobley blocked Brett Favre's 4th down pass in Super Bowl XXXII? It was way more satisfying than Elway throwing another touchdown pass against his former coach's team the following year. It was great, yes, but not nearly as thrilling.
And every dramatic Broncos win reminds me of The Drive, and that makes me happy every single time.
I loved the ending of KC game, and I loved the game.
My youngest was in shock when the stadium went nuts over Pot Roast's tip. My oldest had the most genuine reaction of pure joy I have seen. You would have thought he just won the Super Bowl himself. It almost brought tears to my eyes to think he loves the Broncos as much as (more than?) I do!
And all of this joy was after getting to meet Peyton Manning the day before the game:
Reason No. 918 to really, really like #Broncos' #PeytonManning - he took a picture with my kids. #MileHighAdventure pic.twitter.com/5VZu10LUNn— L.Lattimore-Volkmann (@docllv) September 14, 2014
So, continue to pick apart the Xs and Os of the game. It's good to do that. Helps understand the team and the game better and gives us a lot to talk about on those boring days between Sunday.
But I leave with you a video of our extraordinary "Mile High Adventure" so none of us will forget how lucky we are to be complaining about winning.
Ahh, the Mile High Magic is real.
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