As Peyton Manning left another day of OTA’s this week, his press conference was filled with a couple of hints that the Denver media was more critical than he expected. His subtle note of displeasure to those of us holding microphones was a reminder of what actually drives the Denver media. Denver is, and has been since its first Super bowl run, a Broncos town. John Elway helped bring this love to new levels, but it was only in the social media age with Tim Tebow that the rest of the country could see it. In the end, Tebow was not entirely the driving force of all the attention. He was just a bi-product of a crazy orange and blue football town in the Rocky Mountains.
If God wasn’t a Broncos fan, why did he make sunsets orange and blue? It is a common bumper sticker seen around Denver Broncos country, where the Rocky Mountains cast a shadow against brilliant orange sunsets throughout the year. Broncos country as it is known, resulted from a cow town with a thirty five year population explosion The Broncos became the center of attention in 1977 when a ragtag group led by quarterback Craig Morton took Denver to its first NFL Championship Game. The Broncos now have six appearances in the Super Bowl and two wins, with every story well documented.
Manning commented that he never had to answer for incompletions in practice before. For the second practice open to the media, there were far more misses than completions. Manning justified this by saying they were working on long ball drills and that required receivers to be on the same page, but it was still a largely unsuccessful play. On a radio interview later in the day, Manning asked if his friend Todd Helton was ever criticized for not hitting enough home runs during batting practice for the Colorado Rockies. My response is that the Rockies are a summertime distraction but the Broncos are always a championship contender in Colorado.
Tim Tebow’s circus may have been bigger than John Elway’s only because of the national attention, but on the local level, Tebow and Elway received similar treatment. Every aspect of John Elway’s life was documented from the moment he arrived in Denver. The Elway’s were a part of everyone’s family and he is still the most popular man in Colorado. Elway’s life in the time of social media would have been even more documented. Entire twitter feeds would have been devoted to ‘Where’s Elway?’
By comparison, Colorado has given Manning a pass so far. When he chooses to make public appearances, the Denver fans gladly greet him as the great hope of another Super Bowl in Colorado. He may be bewildered by the fact that everyone is talking about use of Ipads for the playbook or which plays are run in practice. This is not Indianapolis. This is Denver. Welcome to Broncos country.