Denver Broncos: Are The Fans Afraid of Greatness?
The Denver Broncos are on the verge of winning their 11th straight game to close the season, and there are far too many “fans” who are scared. I say scared because it is the only reason I can think of as to why people are not embracing what they are watching. Because of what I do I spend a lot of time listening to sports talk radio, reading the newspaper and I am fascinated by the response of Colorado sports’ fans to the Broncos; especially as it relates to the other teams in town.
The Colorado Rockies are possibly the worst franchise in all of sports and if they ever got to .500, there would be a parade in downtown Denver. The Broncos go on a ten game winning streak and people are complaining about how they are winning but the Rockies lose ten in a row, and there’s not a peep. Is it because fans are scared of success, are they scared of being letdown in the end? With the Rockies, fans never have to be worried about being disappointed so there’s comfort in that I suppose.
The Denver Nuggets are a solid NBA team; they make the playoffs every season but they have only gotten out of the first-round in one of those seasons over the past ten years. However there’s no big uproar in May when they get bounced from the playoffs but when the Broncos give up a garbage touchdown in a 20 point win, then fans are calling the post-game show to complain. The Nuggets are the most predictable team in sports; win 50-53 games a season and lose in the first-round. There must be a comfort for the fans that they know what is going to happen; there’s no chance of having their hopes crushed. If the Nuggets ever get out of the first-round, then it’s a reason to party.
Maybe the best example of Colorado fans fear is right up the road in Boulder. The Colorado Buffaloes went 4-21 in two seasons under head coach, Jon Embree and the outrage over his dismissal was amusing. Not only were they 4-21 but they were getting worse by the week. I am no fan of athletic director, Mike Bohn but he’s trying to be great, he’s trying to win. Once again I am left to wonder are Colorado fans just so comfortable with being bad that they don’t want to risk being better. I don’t know if Mike Macintyre is the answer but his hiring represents a chance to be good, a chance to be great.
Now we’ve reached the Broncos who over the past two seasons may represent this apprehension among the fans better than anything else. Last year, the Broncos were 1-4 and Tim Tebow was inserted into the starting lineup. At that point there was nothing to lose and the Broncos went on one of the most improbable winning streaks in sports history. They won games in ways that had never been seen before and may never be seen again, but there were no real expectations. Every win was a surprise and making the playoffs was beyond everyone’s wildest dreams. Even after they got crushed by the New England Patriots in the playoffs; the overriding feeling was “What a fun season!” There was no disappointment, no mourning over the fact that the Broncos did not win the Super Bowl.
Then in March of 2012, John Elway and the Broncos did something that has apparently spooked the heck out of sports fans in Colorado. They took a chance, they dared to be great, they reached for the mountain top. When the Broncos signed Peyton Manning, everything changed! 8-8 was no longer good enough; winning the AFC West was no longer good enough. The only thing that matters to Elway, Manning and the Broncos is winning the Super Bowl. However when goals are set that high, the chances of being disappointed are greater and I believe that’s why the fans are so critical of the Broncos even when there’s very little to be critical of.
If fans find fault with the Broncos, even in the midst of a ten game winning streak, then maybe it won’t be so depressing if they lose in the AFC Championship game. They can say, “See I told you, they were never that good. So I am not surprised.” It’s the only thing that I can think of as to why the Broncos are highly criticized and the other teams are left alone. The Broncos are not afraid to be great; it’s time for their fans to get on board or get out of the way.
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