Recognizing the huge contributions of the early writers here is one of the best parts about our own Hall of Fame, so I asked our newest and highly deserving inductees - Jeremy Bolander (aka Styg50) and Troy Hufford - a few questions to give us some insight into their fandom.
And being the excellent writers they are, you are going to love these answers, which will remind you what a joy it really is to be part of this team and this site (even when the bickering might seem at an all-time high over quarterbacks or whatnot).
Because one of the things we all love the most about being a fan of this team, is its shared passion with fellow diehards.
Congrats Styg and Troy and welcome to the MHR Hall of Fame!
How did you become a Broncos fan?
Styg50: I was born into it. My dad worked in Colorado and soon after I was born, we moved back to his birthplace in Idaho but have never wavered in our love of the Broncos.
I consider myself a natural born citizen of Broncos country (rather than a naturalized citizen). "Becoming" however has a broader scope, methinks. My first memories are multiple Subpar Owl losses and me in my matching Bronco sweats and sweatshirt, feeling nowhere near as orange as I looked. But those years were also filled with exhilarating Elway comebacks that I became a huge fan of. And then Shanahan became the head coach, and my eyes opened a little wider to what I was seeing, which was clearly (even a kid could see it) something no other team was doing. For the first time, I think, I became a fan of the game the Broncos were playing.
When I was away from home for months at a time fishing, I would miss whole seasons, leaving as they began and returning as the playoffs started. But I became something of a diehard in that time, trekking across the frozen mud of Dutch Harbor in sub-zero weather just to see a few seconds of ESPN postgame coverage when I should have been sleeping. I was able to be home for the drafts during those years, and I filled my days with homemade lists of players long before being a draftnik was a thing, and slowly I became proficient in the language and lore of player evaluation.
And then when I found MHR, and again when I joined the staff, and yet again when I decided to step down, I became something else. My point being, I think we are always "becoming" whatever it is we are.
Troy Hufford: I’ve been a Broncos fan for as long as I can remember. My dad was a Broncos fan and went to college in Denver, so I’ve always recognized that my family bled blue and orange, despite living in Bengals territory (northern Kentucky) where people bleed black and orange.
What prompted you to join MHR and what do you like best about coming here?
Styg50: I wanted to share what I felt was insight into player evaluation, and I considered making a website for doing that. In searching to see what was already out there, my dad suggested I listen to this guy who did a Broncos online radio show out of his basement. That of course was John Bena, and I was hooked on the ready access I had to him and his apparent shared passion for the Broncos. I asked him if I could write for his site, and he said "Sure!" And I was shocked he agreed without seeing a sample of my work. Could he tell I was awesome just from a few pithy comments I had left in his radio chatroom? He must! Of course...he meant fanposts (diaries at the time), which anyone could do. But I went ahead and did some. It was fun and mastering "blog voice" was an enjoyable challenge just from a writer's point of view.
But the feedback was instantaneous and always generous, even when critical. Like all but the most gifted (just ask them!), I failed early and often to make my point/entertain/lend insight/be in any way correct about anything, but familiar voices would be there to encourage/scold/challenge me. That created relationships, and those relationships were what was always the most tenuous and valuable part of being here.
Troy Hufford: As a displaced Broncos fan, I was always scouring the Internet for Broncos news. I remember distinctly looking through a four-letter sports network website during the 2006 Denver Broncos season and wishing I had someone that would agree with me when I said the Broncos deserved to be higher in the power rankings. The national media has never been great at capturing true Broncos news. So, I started paying closer attention to the Denver Post and other local Denver media outlets. I just couldn’t be satisfied. I was obsessed with the Broncos and did not have an outlet.
Then I found MHR and knew that I had found a home. I spent hours on MHR. I would read every article and every comment. I would reply to articles and other comments, and occasionally write fanposts, as well. I would have arguments with people. I was a reckless youth, finding out what the Internet boundaries were. Then John "Guru" Bena asked if I wanted to write on the front page. It seemed like a smooth transition, since I was spending what seemed like every waking hour on MHR anyways.
What I like best about coming to MHR is the sense of community. I’ve interacted with so many different people from all walks of life. I’ve been to training camp with Kaptain Kirk and had lunch with him for a week. I’ve had ongoing conversations about biomechanics and concussions with Emmett Smith (aka Doc Bear). I’ve had gif battles on the game day open threads. It’s just fun to interact with people.
Yes, it’s about Broncos football. Football brings us together. But the people on here make this site worth coming back to.
What are your favorite kinds of posts to read/comment on?
Styg50: I love to see new angles. That might be a data post that combines old data in new ways for a new perspective, or an interview that shows a side of a player we don't get to see, or an All-22 breakdown that shows us what we just saw but in a way that tells us 10 times more things about the play.
But especially I love to read, and I strove to create posts that shared an angle that can reach others personally. A strongly voiced conclusion, while a click generator, belongs only to its author and those who agree. But the angle of the analysis (when it is present), that particular way of looking at the subject, belongs to everyone to whom it's shown.
Troy Hufford: I really love opinion pieces from people who are smarter than me, and I also love posts that break down Xs and Os. I’ve always been fascinated with football strategy.
When I was an MHR author, I made a concerted effort to try and learn as much about football as I could. I didn’t want to just regurgitate what the rest of the media was saying. I wanted to really understand what was happening on the field and off. I read all of the MHR articles and lots and lots of books, most notably "Take Your Eye Off the Ball" by Pat Kirwan.
Knowledge doesn’t make a good writer. Curiosity makes a good writer. You’re never going to know everything, but being curious enough to learn things and listen to the opinions of people who are smarter than you allows you to progress, not just as a writer, but as a person.
And that’s why I deserve to be Miss America… This is for the Miss America application, right?
Favorite thing about watching the Broncos?
Styg50: I love watching just about any kind of football, and I love analyzing everything from the history of the game to individual plays or games to schemes, coaching DNA and even betting lines.
But for some reason, it is all different when it involves the Broncos. The watching and analyzing is fun, but when it involves the Broncos, it just matters more. I don't know why that is, or how they got so tied up into my desires and priorities, but dammit, they just matter more, and that is my favorite thing about them.
Troy Hufford: The advertisements, mostly.
Seriously, though, I just love Broncos football. I can't help but like the Broncos. I don't know why I am the way that I am, but I can't help it. I'd probably provide a better answer if you asked me why my body requires oxygen. At least there's a scientific answer for that.
You can ask any of my friends, especially my brother, and they’ll agree that I’m absolutely terrible to be around when the Broncos game is on television. I care about the success of this team way too much. I watched the Super Bowl by myself, at my house, in the dark…I’m too nervous during games to have people over.
So, I would say that my favorite thing about watching the Broncos is when we’re smashing some team, and I can take a breath. If it’s a close game, I am too stressed to really enjoy it – very much.
What is your prediction for this season?
Styg50: I predict that like every defending champion before them that the Broncos are going to have a grueling season, a real grind. In many ways I believe it will be harder than last year to get after that No. 1 seed, and I expect that we will be chasing that seed by game 10 instead of fending others off from it.
A healthy defense is absolutely imperative, because everything about this offense is frustrating to me. But I'm excited to see what it has in store for the league, and vice-versa, because either way, it will probably be historic football. Go Broncos!
Troy Hufford: I’m feeling like 10-6 isn’t unreasonable. I’m concerned that we don’t really know what we have at QB, right now, but I trust that our defense is going to win us some tough games this year.
The Broncos have a tough early schedule and don't have a bye until week 11, but if we can survive early, I think we can make a playoff push at the end of the year. I don't buy into the idea that the Broncos are going to fall off significantly from last year. I think the Broncos should certainly make the playoffs and then, depending on injuries, are capable of doing some serious damage.