We are officially less than a month before the start of the NFL season, so it's probably time to start previewing the monster. The key to the NFL's success — other than fantasy football and gambling, of course — is the rabid nature of its fans. That is to say: You don't see a lot of people painting their faces for their favorite golfer.
We asked a gaggle of writers, from the Web, from print, from books, even a TV guy or two, to tell us, in as many or as little words as they need, why My Team Is Better Than Your Team. This is not meant to be factual, or dispassionate, or even logical: We just asked them to riff on why they love their team so much, or what their team means to them, or whatever. We will be running two a day until the beginning of the NFL season.
Right now: the Denver Broncos. Your author is Jennifer Philion.
Jennifer Philion is a former editor for The Sporting News and other sports sites. She is now an editor/writer for a university in Utah. Her words are after the jump.
I moved to Colorado in 1993, intending to never become a Broncos fan.
I was a Bears fan through and through, and even though my team had fallen on hard times, I stuck with them. The Broncos were just that other team in blue and orange, the one that couldn't win a Super Bowl. I hated John Elway.
In '96, the Bears came to Mile High. I pulled on the Starter hoody I got for Christmas in '85 and rubbed my Jim McMahon Starting Lineup action figure for good luck. My husband and I sat in nosebleeds above the north end zone, taking serious trash-talk from season-ticket holders.
The Bears kept the game close, and the Broncos fans got nastier. I smiled, but didn't engage. Then, with the Bears down 17-12 in the final minute, they got a pass interference call in the end zone. First-and-goal from the 1. I exploded. I got in people's faces and talked an extreme amount of shit. I could not be contained. I had taken crap for three hours, but now MY TEAM WAS GOING TO WIN AND EVERYONE COULD KISS MY BEAR-LOVING ASS.
Then the Broncos proceeded to stuff my Bears on four straight downs. I have never left a stadium so fast in my life; but as I did, I was thinking, "Perhaps there is something to this Broncos team, after all."
Three Things that Make Me Happy About the Broncos This Season:
1. Javon Walker: The Broncos haven't had a decent 1-2 wide receiver combo since Ed McCaffrey retired. Hopefully, Walker's arrival will prompt perennial underachiever Ashley Lelie to step up his game.
2. Jason Elam, badass kicker: Barring injury, he'll break into the top 10 all-time NFL scoring leaders this season.
3. Dueling horse mascots: Thunder II and Miles. Apparently, having a real horse for a mascot isn't fan-friendly enough, because in 2001 the Broncos introduced Miles, a terrifying white "horse" crammed into a football uniform. Miles can dance, ride a motorcycle and, according to a disturbing photo gallery on his site, wear a Speedo. And, unlike other horses we know, Miles can apparently read and write: His report on competing in this year's Mascot Games is posted with the Broncos other "Top Stories."
One Thing that Makes Me Sad
1. Dwayne Carswell. The former Pro Bowl tight end turned offensive lineman is buried on the depth chart this preseason after an amazing recovery from a car crash that nearly killed him last October. It's unlikely he'll make the team.