As much as the Denver Broncos offensive performance on Thursday night enraged me, the thing that flabbergasted me the most was seeing thousands of Broncos fans walk out on the game as it was tied and heading into overtime. In my 43 years, I’ve never seen a fanbase bail on a winnable game like that. Sure, if its a blowout and the game is over it would make sense to beat the traffic, but a tie game?
To me it felt soft and weak for a fanbase to just give up on their team in a winnable game like that. For one, the defense feeds off the crowd and the defense actually was playing a hell of a game. Maybe the louder crowd doesn’t matter and the Indianapolis Colts score anyway, but it was sure quiet for Matt Ryan and that offense in overtime.
Anyway, I encountered enough resistance on social media with my opinions on this that I thought it might be fun to get a roundtable-type discussion going with our MHR staff and then see what people think in the comments section as well.
Has the Broncos fanbase become too fair-weather after leaving during a tie game?”
Sadaraine: This is a complicated question for sure. The bottom line answer is that yes, they have. Fans have a role in NFL football and that role is to cheer for the home team. The fans that left early in a game going into overtime failed at helping the team by being there to add crowd noise and make it hard on the Colts.
That being said, I get it. We’ve suffered years since this team has had success and this fan base is absolutely sick of it. The Broncos organization has crowed about the “Broncos Standard” for years and this team has failed to live up to that standard for far too long. Our fans are sick of cheering for sub-standard play and they have every right to be upset when our shiny new head coach and big money quarterback keep talking about how shiny this turd is week in and week out.
Frankie Abbott: Fans pay money to be entertained. If the thing they paid money for isn’t entertaining, and is instead as I’d imagine for many last night frustrating. They have every reason to leave. Based on what we saw in OT, those fans saved themselves a ton more heartache.
Jess Place: Here’s the thing though. The Broncos have shrouded themselves in this premium product marketing ploy.
$50+ for parking, $16 beers, $8 hot dogs, $80 sweatshirts, $45 hats, and that’s before the tickets. Then to have the Broncos come out and poo poo down their leg like they did… and have for the last 6 seasons. They have every right to be furious.
There was nothing energizing about that game. Nothing to feel grateful for. Absolutely nothing to cheer for up to that point. Why would an OT that never should have happened in the first place be any different? The kicker is that those who left were RIGHT in their assumption that the game was over. Let that sink in.
Fan loyalty will be there through thick and thin. Fan obedience is what is at issue. They’re sick of it. They’re sick of paying for it. Sick of watching it.
Joe Mahoney: The voice of customer is a big thing in business. Last night the voice of the customer was heard loud and clear. The product they were being sold was terrible (at least the offense) and they voiced their opinion by leaving before the game was over because they could feel the loss coming. The fanbase has seen the Broncos, in seven years, go from Super Bowl Champions to a team that loses at home to one of the worst teams in the league (like Denver currently is) that was missing their best defensive and offensive players.
Nick Burch: I think the fans are just at a boiling point. I’d feel different if this franchise had done anything on the field to offer excitement and hope in the past five years, but when I saw the fans leaving, it just had a feel of, “I’ve seen this movie, I know how it ends.” I’d also maybe feel different if it was a Sunday afternoon game and people didn’t have to work today.
Adam Malnati: This is one of those gatekeeping topics that fans engage in all the time. Calling people out for not being the right kind of fan is trivial and silly. Watching the fans leave as the game rolled into overtime caused a lot of discussion about whether or not fans are being “good” fans, or if they should have stayed and contributed. The bottom line is that those fans that left voiced their opinion about the direction of the team by walking out. That has nothing to do with being fair-weather or bandwagon and everything to do with being frustrated. The product on the field has not met the hype of the off-season. Put a better product on the field and we won’t have to have this ridiculous discussion about whether or not fans who spent their own hard earned money are doing the right thing.
Jeff Essary: “There is only one boss; the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” - Sam Walton
Chad Workman: Every fan base has the fair weather type of fans, and that’s fine, but Broncos country is one of the best and most intelligent fan bases in football. While a mass exit before overtime is an embarrassment and includes fair weather fans, it’s also a statement from a fan base who sat through years of poor QB play, only to be sold a bag of goods with Russ and company. They (supposedly) continued the longest sellout streak last night, but tickets were available throughout the day which says a lot, as do the nearly 5 thousand no-shows. Even through the toughest years, attendance was never a question.
Ian St. Clair: Who am I tell anyone how to act when it’s something they spent their money on? As Adam said, this is trivial fan BS that distracts from the fact the product on the field continues to suck.
Mike DeCicco: No. They’re fair-weather if it was the Chiefs fans doing it after all this success. We’re the Lions and the Raiders right now. If the team doesn’t give a shit why should the fans?
Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann: Yes they are. I get the frustration. After decades of so much success, the product the last six years has continued to be way below par, despite so many promises to fix it.
But the thing is, walking out on a boring game and/or booing the guys on the field - who with very little exception are working their asses off - is misplaced anger. Yeah, you’re mad that they can’t play better and entertain you more - especially because you’re used to such great entertainment with this team. But those guys aren’t trying to lose. They aren’t trying to drop the ball. They aren’t trying to miss tackles (well, they may be doing that on occasion,lol). If you want players to play better, dig in with them. Push them. Cheer for them. Getting better is hard work, and fans who can’t grit it out from the sidelines shouldn’t be mad at players who can’t win every Sunday or play awesome all the time.
Being mad about the product and “firing the boss” by spending money elsewhere is the way to send a message to the right people. But you have to commit. Don’t go to the games and don’t turn on the TV. Show the Broncos and the NFL you really won’t be there until they are better. That’s how you “fire” the right people.
Walking out on a game where players are trying - especially a defense that is exhausted but is doing everything it can to get the offense a chance and could use some love from the crowd - is not firing the CEO; it’s firing the guy working the cash register who put in a 10-hour day and made a mistake giving someone too much change.