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Broncos players need not focus on Broncos fans

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At 0-4, Broncos players have much more pressing issues than fan sentiment.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

“If you’re a true fan, then you believe in us. If you’re not, if you’re just a bandwagoner, then you’re going to believe what you want to believe. At the end of the day, we have a lot of football left. If you haven’t played this game, then you just don’t know. You’re looking on the outside. We have a lot of games left and we can still be in the playoffs and we can still make a big run for it. When we do it, I don’t want everybody jumping on the bandwagon saying I told you so.”

As a fan of the Denver Broncos, I want to go on record to say that I am a huge Phillip Lindsay supporter, love his game on the field, and appreciate how he’s positively transformed the Broncos running attack. However, last week Phillip Lindsay weighed in on problems he’s concerned about regarding the Broncos fanbase following Denver’s abysmal 3-0 start to the 2019 season. As a lifelong fan, I bristled at what he had to say. Following Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars, I feel it necessary to respond.

First off, nobody, not a player, not ownership, not other fans have the right to declare anyone a true fan over any other fan. So you invested a small fortune in memorabilia and painted your house orange, does that make you a bigger fan than someone who ran in the Broncos 7K? Is someone who sits in the nosebleeds a bigger or better fan than someone who shells out the cake to sit club level? Is your Broncos tattoo smaller than mine? What does that mean? My mother has been rooting for the Broncos since the 1970’s, but wouldn’t know Phillip Lindsay if he came in and handed her a business card, does that make her less of a fan?

It’s crazy.

I take issue with Lindsay dividing fans as ‘true’ and ‘bandwagoner’ fans. It would appear that he defines voicing dissatisfaction with the Broncos winless start to the season as a hallmark of ‘bandwagon’ fans. If you don’t dig field goals over touchdowns, you’re not a true fan. Aren’t hip to Leonard Fournette ripping off 225 yards? You’re not a real fan. I get the benefits of staying positive, but the reality is that this year’s Broncos are already a deep disappointment. It’s hard to put a smile on your face when the losses pile up, but, thankfully, that’s not a requirement of being a fan. The truth is, there are few resources more precious in life than time or money and, frankly, anyone who devotes either to the Denver Broncos, in good times or bad, is a fan.

Period.

It’s true, the vast majority of fans have never played the game. However, the outrageous claim that we don’t know what we are talking about when we are dissatisfied over an 0-4 start, is total crap. Whether it’s in business, love, or football, the stench of losing is universal. It sucks for the players. It sucks for the fans. Losing sucks.

To be a Broncos fan is to have expectations. Players, coaches, executives, and owners may come and go, but it’s the fans who are the standard-bearers of the franchise. Over the last few years, fans have watched as sacred records were slaughtered at the hands of the team who had traditionally protected them. Back-to-back(to back?) losing seasons, the end of the shutout streak that dated back to 1992, Pat Bowlen’s Super Bowl appearances outnumbering losing seasons, these long-revered cornerstones of Broncos fandom are now gone... and yet the fans still show up, still buy gear, and still love their Denver Broncos.

These are the fathers that tell stories of The Drive, The Fumble, the Helicopter, and Von Miller’s strip sack to their sons and daughters. They are the ones who scrape together the money to buy tickets. These are the fans who go to away games and enthusiastically endure abuse in hostile environments because they love their Broncos. So long as folks cheer for Denver on gameday, what difference does it make what kind of fan they are?

So when players claim that critical fans are less than or don’t understand the game of football, I call BS. Players should take comfort in the criticism, because it shows that fans still give a damn. My advice to the players is to care more about what they’re doing on the field and less about who is and who isn’t a real fan. When you’re winless in October, what the fans think should be the least of your worries.

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