Teams have to sell. What exactly they sell depends on the success of that franchise. Some have to actually "sell" their fan base that they want to win, which means buy tickets and merchandise. In other words, “please give us your money.”
When you have to convince people you want to win, that's not a sustained business model. It shows desperation. It shows incompetence, especially when it comes to the NFL. Teams have to try to not make money in the NFL.
Then there are teams that don't have to sell at all. Those fan bases, for the most part, don't think twice about handing over money. They want to do it. In fact, they need to do it. They feel giddy about buying tickets and jerseys of their favorite players.
“Money well spent,” fans will tell you.
One of those teams is the Denver Broncos. No one knows that better than Broncos Country. They don’t need Joe Ellis to sell them on giving their hard earned money to the Broncos. But it's always nice to get that validation from people like Ellis as a reminder of how fortunate the fans are.
That has been the case since 1983.
“I think the one thing I’ve learned, having learned this from Pat Bowlen, was just make sure you support your football team and the football department,” Ellis told the media on Wednesday. “They come first. Secondly, give them all the resources that they need. Everything that they need to try to win a Super Bowl. You’re not going to do it every year, but you sure as heck better try.
“If we’re not doing that for John (Elway) and Gary (Kubiak) and these players and the staff and everyone dedicated to football, we don’t have a chance. I think that’s the one mandate that I can hand down and everybody else knows it because we’ve lived it for so many years with this ownership.”
The stat that best illustrates this is: The Broncos have more Super Bowl appearances than losing seasons since Bowlen became the owner. That’s remarkable. In fact, that’s beyond remarkable. It shows in black and white the commitment the organization has to win Lombardi Trophies.
"You're not going to [win the Super Bowl] every year ... But you sure as heck better try." - Pres./CEO Joe Ellis pic.twitter.com/BrPNWS2omn— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) July 27, 2016
That resonates within the franchise. No matter the position a person holds with the Broncos, they want to do their part. They want to be the best. The last thing any person wants is to be the reason the organization didn’t reach its goal.
Look no further than Demaryius Thomas.
Yes, the Broncos receiver just had a season where he had 105 catches, 1,304 yards and six touchdowns. Despite those numbers, Thomas couldn’t get out of his own way in 2015. He struggled with drops and confidence issues. Despite the fact Thomas is the No. 1 receiver for Denver’s offense, he was a non-factor in the playoffs.
Four catches, 40 yards.
Two catches, 12 yards.
One catch, eight yards.
For a guy paid the amount of money he’s paid, that’s unacceptable. And Thomas knows that.
“It was probably the concentration,” Thomas said. “I really don’t have a reason. It was some of them that were just too easy and I was probably looking up the field too fast. I’m not going to blame it on (that). They should have been catches. That’s in the past now. I look forward to trying to do better.”
He knows the expectations that come with being a member of the Broncos. Not just a member either, but one of the faces of the organization. He knows what the standards are when you play in Denver. Just because Peyton Manning retired doesn’t change that. If anything, it puts even more pressure on Thomas.
Demaryius Thomas said he caught "a lot more" footballs this offseason to try and overcome the drop issues.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) July 27, 2016
He also knows it’s time to step up. It’s time to get out of his head. It’s time to help lead the Broncos to another Super Bowl title, and one he actually contributes to aside from filling a uniform.
“I had too many drops last year and that’s something that I worked on a lot this year,” Thomas said. “I caught a lot more balls. I’m sure it’ll pay off. I look forward to that. I look forward to getting back to work.”
One of the reasons fans should trust that Thomas will have a “rebound” season in 2016 is the work he’s put in, the fact he wants it, he’s determined to put his struggles in the past and DeMarcus Ware’s influence. I’ve mentioned this a few times since March, but the best thing to happen to Thomas was that trip to South Africa.
The safari was beneficial two-fold: It allowed Thomas to get out of his head and give him a life lesson. As I said in my original story, the trip looked unreal and put things into perspective - for all of us. When you see pictures of lions on a safari, that happens. Above all, it looked fun. It looked like a lot of fun.
It rang true then and still does now as training camp opens: Perhaps the lesson from Ware to Thomas is that in the face of danger, you can still have fun. But you must have a clear mind to do so or you'll get eaten alive.
Enjoy the ride.
There are lions in all aspects of life; it doesn't mean you walk through it fearing they'll eat you. You must have a clear mind and approach that nothing will stop you - let alone yourself.
When it comes to potential success for Thomas and his teammates, here’s another instance where the Broncos don’t have to sell.
Watch out for Thomas in 2016.