In a few short hours, the official 53-man team of the Denver Broncos will take the field for its first official practice of the regular season, and we will be off and running for what promises to be a wild ride.
No matter what storyline you choose for this season, it is going to be interesting - a new coach, a new scheme, a threatening defense paired with a young offense save our aging QB... tons of looming questions on how that all plays out.
I cannot wait.
But one thing is certain - we are all going to argue about it a lot.
And you know what? I'm all for that.
Being a Broncos fan means a lot of things. For some it is an addiction not to be overcome, while for others merely an entertaining escape if there is time.
Mile High Report hit its 9th birthday a few weeks ago (thanks for the reminder, John Bena!) and for most of us who are here on a regular basis, following the Broncos is all about the details - can Peyton Manning still lead this team? Will Brock Osweiler be a good replacement some day (or will Trevor Siemian show him up)? Can the offensive line protect The Sheriff? Does it even have to if we have a Kubiak-style running offense? Will Von Miller get the NFL record for sacks? Will the sports media ever give Chris Harris Jr. the recognition he deserves? And on and on and on...
Whatever level our infatuation reaches, following the Broncos usually means arguing about those details.
And despite what you expect, I'm here to say it's a good thing.
No wait. A really good thing.
I get just as frustrated as the next fan over comments that trash my favorite Broncos or are seemingly inane tangents from the real issues (For examples, see just about every thread on Manning coming back to the Broncos posted in the month following the Indy playoff game). And I never advocate disrespect of another's view.
But after hearing from several MHR members the past few months who randomly wrote and shared their stories, I've had a bit of perspective on what's great about fandom. Or, at least a reminder of something I've always really known:
Life is hard, but the Broncos rock...and obsessing over the team to the point of forgetting anything else even exists makes the sucky parts of life sooo much more bearable.
We come here to argue - then get along - then argue again. And ultimately, get along because we love this team.
One MHR commenter has a wife battling cancer. Weeks are filled with hospital trips and chemo treatments, and despite uplifting visits from Rams' players, true respite is found watching the Broncos and talking and arguing about the team here.
Another lives in Alaska and has a wife and son both fighting uphill battles with rare forms of that awful disease. In spite of the despair that could come from pain, the family finds common ground focusing on the Broncos, specifically favorites like Von Miller and the ever omniscient John Elway.
The father of one member recently passed away while another member is facing a financial situation that meant auctioning his most prized possession (as well as a gift from his wife) - a Peyton Manning-signed helmet from Super Bowl XLI.
Our own staff has dealt with losing loved ones to terminal illness, and we all lost one of our own this summer (RIP, BroncoMike) - who by the way, loved a good argument to his very core.
Not to mention the fact that all of us, at some time or another, are forced to deal with things in life we'd just rather not.
The beauty in these stories - as well as our own strife - is that regardless of what else is going on, we find solace in the team we all love, even if some of us drink more Kool-Aid than others.
Those minutes we spend debating, trashing, arguing, questioning the Broncos are minutes we are not obsessing about our own complicated - and sometimes painful - lives.
Debate John Elway's draft picks for days. Question Gary Kubiak's play calls. Dissect the offensive line over and over and over (and then over again until Elway surprises us with a key FA signing so you can start that dissection over again). Trash the special teams play. Launch a protest over a player's lack of effort. Mock draft until your vision blurs. Play fantasy football like it actually matters.
Argue, debate, question, scream, yell, offend (well, try arguing just short of that one, maybe).
This will undoubtedly be a season prime for many debates. But that's good. Engaging in the normalcy of arguing about our favorite team beats worrying about a low white cell count, if the tumor is bigger, if the mortgage can be paid or whether another Broncos game is in our future.
The greatest thing about all of sports is how fans from so many different backgrounds and viewpoints can have one commonality - the team they love. And in disagreement over the details, there is an unspoken agreement about wanting to win.
It's more than OK (even encouraged) to appreciate some of those "bigger than football" stories - like Manning doing one awesome thing after another; or guys like Ben Garland, who may never see the roster again but will still appreciate their uniform and the opportunity it brings to make a difference; or fans who like a win no matter how ugly it may have been, or just fandom in general.
But it's also OK every now and then to pretend that nothing is bigger than football too.