Welcome to the refreshed Mile High Report! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we're sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you'd like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We're collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
This post will be pinned near the top for a few days and I’ll be including any FanPosts right here - maybe even pushing some to the front page. It’s a bit of a competition between SB Nation blogs to see which community shares the most fan stories this week and plus one FanPoster will get a nice $500 gift card prize to Fanatics.com. So if you have a story, share it in a FanPost! It would be so cool if an MHR reader won.
We’re starting this off with our own personal fan stories.
Tim Lynch: I was born in San Diego and essentially my entire family consisted of Dan Fouts-loving San Diego Chargers fans. Nearly every piece of clothing I had was Chargers-related. However, as you can see from these photos, it was borderline child abuse.
Fortunately, for me anyway, we ended up moving to Pagosa Springs, Colorado for three years in the mid to late 80s. It took one magnificent drive in the AFC Championship game for my fledgling Bronco fandom to morph into Broncomania.
I ended up growing up the rest of the way in Northern California and the constant harassment from Oakland Raiders fans only made my Bronco resolve deeper and more permanent. Go Broncos!
Joe Mahoney: My dad was a career NCO in the Army so we moved around, but the first football game I remember watching on TV was the Broncos in 1981 when we were living in Fountain, CO, in the shadow of Pike's Peak. I took the Broncos as my team after that despite moving all over God's green earth and have been a Bronco fan ever since.
Christopher Hart: I was born in America's heartland where a majority of people felt the need to root for the Minnesota Vikings, as they were the team closest to our town. I never bought into that line of thinking. I saw the depression and angst Vikings fans perpetually endured, and knew I could never swear allegiance to that franchise.
As I began to develop a more keen interest in football, I became mesmerized by Shanahan's 1996 squad. They were fun to watch, even despite their eventual loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Mile High Stadium in the Divisional Playoff Round. I'll never forget where I was during that game -- and it's safe to say all true Broncos fans could say the same.
Players like John Elway, Terrell Davis and Steve Atwater became personal favorites of mine. Their prowess on the field was astonishing and inspiring. I am proud to be a Broncos fan.
Adam Malnati: I grew up in Greeley Colorado at a time when the Broncos training camp was held at the University of Northern Colorado. My dad grew up in the shadow of old Bears Stadium, which eventually was converted into old Mile High Stadium. Being a Denver Broncos fan is in my blood. I used to spend summer days getting autographs and watching practices. It was a real highlight to run into players at the old Target on 11th Ave, or shopping at the mall. As I got older, it was bumping into players at the Smiling Moose, having a few drinks with true giants.
We followed John Elway's career, living with the successes and dying with the heartbreaks. It was just a part of life. But my true fandom comes from leaving. When I was 25 years old I packed up my car and drove a thousand miles away for a girl. My connection home was my love for the Broncos. I would search for the right bar to watch the game. I was born a Bronco fan, but it took leaving to truly become a citizen of Broncos Country.
Jess Place: In 1983 my family moved from Cripple Creek to the Denver suburbs. As part of our relocation, my father took us on a driving tour of the city. Being just four years-old, I only remember one thing from that drive-our stop at old Mile High Stadium. "This is where the Broncos play," my dad said proudly. My dad moved to Denver in the mid-seventies and immediately adopted the Denver Broncos as his own. For him, it was an exciting time to be a Broncos fan. They were finally experiencing success and had gone to a Super Bowl. Make no mistake, ours was a Broncos household. For me, there was no choice. I was brought up spending Sundays in front of the television for Broncos football. The playoff runs of the 1980's and Super Bowl failures only solidified my standing as a lifelong fan. When it comes to the Denver Broncos, there's nobody I'd rather watch a game with than my dad... the man who introduced me to the Denver Broncos.
Leora Ruzin: Born and raised in Colorado, I grew up bleeding orange and blue. When I joined the Army and moved away, my love for the Broncos kept me connected to the home state that I love so much. It is more than being a fan of a football team; it is a being a part of a family.
Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann: I was born to be a Broncos fans, but my true love started in 1977 when Denver was heading to its first Super Bowl - and thanks to my football knowledge c/o of my dad - I won a Broncos trivia contest at my new school. It got me exactly one can of Orange Crush soda and lots of new friends.
Later that summer my grandfather (a Cowboys fan), took me to Broncos training camp at CSU where I got autographs from Red Miller and Rick Upchurch. My fandom only grew exponentially every year as I cherished Sunday afternoons watching games and playing flag football during halftime with my family.
The 80s remain my favorite era of the Broncos as the epic John Elway comebacks will never be duplicated, but Super Bowl XXXII will always be what I consider the greatest Denver Broncos game in history.
Having been away from Colorado since the late 80s, my fandom has morphed into fanaticism that reaches new heights every season, and now I have passed it on to my boys, which I consider perhaps my greatest accomplishment as a mother and fan.
A final note about remaining a diehard fan - After reporting on Super Bowl 50 and watching in person as Peyton Manning got his well-deserved second championship and Von Miller just freaking owned everything about that game, it occurred to me how special that win was. Not just for all the usual reasons but because of the previous three-year heartbreak to reach that point - the '13 playoff loss to Baltimore, the SB48 loss to Seattle and the early playoff exit to Indianapolis in '15 before getting that third Lombardi in 2016. Too many team's fans either suffer in darkness and mediocrity for decades or have such regular dominant success they can't appreciate the struggle. I appreciate our struggle and am actually thankful for it every season.
Sadaraine: I didn't grow up in or around Denver. I didn't grow up with football or playing it. I was introduced to the game by my Step-Father as he was a die-hard fan and had been for years. I didn't like him at first and bet him a dime that the Giants would beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XX. I will never for get the cold long stare I got from him when he forked over the dime and have regretted that bet for years.
But as a grew up and learned how the game worked more and more, I was enthralled by the magic that John Elway and the Broncos produced year after year. Watching him in his prime is a gift I wish I could give every Bronco fan. It isn't nostalgia or bull...Elway was magic. I have never seen a more clutch QB in the NFL and doubt I ever will.
One of the greatest gifts my dad ever gave me was a love of football and the Broncos. I count myself a blessed man to cheer for the Denver Broncos and a supremely blessed man to have seen my team reach the pinnacle of the game 3 times. RIP Dad. You are missed, loved, and appreciated and I thank you so much for the orange and blue blood in my veins and for teaching me all about Mile High Magic.
Ian St. Clair: My Broncos fandom was in my DNA from birth, like my dark hair and blue eyes. As I said in my bio on my welcome to MHR, “I’ve no doubt taken the love for the Broncos passed on from my mom to unprecedented heights. I don’t think she realized, still realizes, the orange monster she created in the early 1980s. But there was no other way for it to play out.”
It’s so much more than being a third-generation, lifelong Broncos fan. It’s also because I grew up in Greeley. Since I can remember, I was at the University of Northern Colorado campus for training camp doing anything and everything I could to get autographs. Watching them put in the work to become the best team in the NFL. Then if we went to the Smiling Moose, or anywhere near campus, you would see John Elway, Tom Jackson and Karl Mecklenburg. As a kid, it was surreal. That’s a common narrative over the course of my life as a Broncos fan/writer. What the Broncos meant to my family didn’t hit me until the first Super Bowl win. Above the Helicopter and Dave Logan’s magical call, I remember the tears in my mom’s eyes. She wanted so much to experience that moment with her father who passed away in the late 1970s and would have loved every second of his favorite team finally winning a Super Bowl. It was at that moment I knew how much and what this team means.
So on the biggest day of my life, I had to include the Broncos. I got them in my wedding vows. “I promise to always be a fan of the Broncos,” my future bride said. As the saying goes about Broncos Country, it’s not just a phrase or place, it’s a way of life.
Pete Baron: I grew up in Southern California, Anaheim to be exact. I was surrounded by the Raiders and Chargers, so the AFC West was in my blood long before I even knew what football was. Now remember, I was born in 1977 (yep, the year of the Broncos very first Super Bowl appearance), and this was LONG before cable tv was invented, much less NFL Sunday ticket or the internet. So how did this Southern California kid become a Broncos fan? Well, Terry Bradshaw said that this Southern California kid needed to play baseball.... kidding.
When I was old enough to actually know what football was, I really loved it. I loved catching the football, and I loved being a linebacker and hitting people with the football (yes, all in backyards as a kid. I didn't play organized football until High School). Anyways, a handful of times per year, we'd get Broncos games on the TV and I fell in love with this Southern California blonde surfer dude who should take his primadona ass to the Yankees, John F'ing Elway! Sure, there were lean days against the Raiders, but I loved how he played. He played like I played in the backyard.
We had ties to Colorado because of my Uncle Pete who lived in Cripple Creek. Eventually we would move to Colorado and I got to see all the Broncos games. I remember adjusting the damn antenna to get CBS in crystal clear (you kids won't ever understand the pain of watching football and having a gust of wind move the outside antenna at the absolute worst time of the game). I remember hating when the Broncos were on FOX because Fox wasn't a station we got in very clear and it would always be kinda fuzzy and wavey. I'd have my friends from school over to cheer on the Broncos, do touchdown dances when Bobby Humphrey scored. High five and make songs when Elway brought us back from behind, mainly because Dan Reeves sucks as a coach.
I remember having my first sip of beer during a Super Bowl party in 1987 when the Broncos started getting blown out and my dad stopped caring and allowed his 10 year old son have a few sips to wash the pain away. I remember the crazy songs that the radio would come up with and play. The one that sticks out is the one they made that had the LaBamba sound to it. Google fails me to find it though. And then the glory years of us winning our first Super Bowl when I was in my A-School in the Navy. I was THE ONLY Broncos fan in a huge room of Packer fans. When the clock struck zero, tears of awesome fell to my cheeks. I had to haul ass to my room to be by the phone for when friends and family would call me (remember, pre-cell phones). We yelled, we screamed, we cried. Our team from Colorado were the World Champs, and nobody could take that away. All the previous pain was erased and made that highest of high all the better. And that is my story about how and why I became a Broncos fan and still am to this day.
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