Since I started following football in 1986, I have loved the Denver Broncos! Over the past 30 years I have quite the Broncos collection: t shirts, sweatshirts, hats, earrings, bracelets, stuffed animals, Christmas ornaments, pillows, blankets, magnets, coats, cups, etc. My favorite colors are orange and blue. Everything I own is orange – my clothes, my car, my glassware, my towels, etc. I have seen the Denver Broncos play several times over the years, including four John Elway games. My very first NFL game was John Elway’s second NFL game. It was September 11, 1983 in Baltimore. I was 10. It was Elway’s rookie season with the Broncos, but he was originally drafted by the Colts. He didn’t want to play for Baltimore, so he said he would play baseball (because he was also drafted by the New York Yankees) rather than play for the Colts. This created quite the hatred for Elway in Baltimore. I remember there being ‘It’s Payday Elway’ painters caps given out to the Colts fans. I don’t remember consciously deciding to be a Denver Broncos fan, but I think that day in Baltimore had something to do with it.
It was tough to be a Denver Broncos fan in the 1980s with three super bowl losses in four years. I remember having football parties and ripping my Elway poster and Broncos pennant off the wall in frustration. Besides John Elway, who is still my favorite football player, I also loved Ed McCaffery. Then I became a huge Shannon Sharpe fan when he joined the Broncos in the 1990s. In addition to seeing John Elway play in his rookie season, I was lucky enough to see him play three more times, including his final season. My dad and I drove up to Philadelphia for a Monday night game against the Eagles in 1995. I drove down 95 to see the Broncos play the Redskins in Washington, DC in 1998. I went to Denver to see Elway play in his last season at Mile High – a dream come true for me. The Denver Broncos finally won a super bowl. In fact, they won back to back superbowls in 1997 and 1998. I cried like a baby at that first super bowl win over the Packers. I still cry today when I watch the film and Broncos owner Pat Bowlen says, “This one’s for John!” Since Elway’s retirement after that second super bowl win, I have seen the Broncos play several times against the Ravens in Baltimore, twice in Nashville against the Titans, twice at the Meadowlands in New Jersey (for Super Bowl XVLIII and against the Jets), and this Sunday I am going to Cleveland for the Broncos-Browns game proudly wearing my old school orange Elway jersey just like he wore in ‘The Drive.”
I try to see at least one Broncos game a season, and I have done a pretty good job keeping that streak alive. And this season the closest the Broncos get to Baltimore is Cleveland, so Cleveland is where I will be this Sunday October 18 to see my Broncos take on the Browns. (Actually Pittsburgh is an hour closer, but October in Cleveland is much warmer than December in Pittsburgh.) It is just a six hour drive from Baltimore to Cleveland, so I will be driving out this Saturday morning October 17. My first stop is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, even before I check into my hotel, because it closes at 5:30pm. (I have been to the R n R Hall of Fame before, but it was 13 years ago.) Both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and First Energy Stadium is less than a mile from my hotel, and there is some sort of trolley or light rail I can take if I don’t want to walk. I am going to get up bright and early Sunday morning and go directly to the stadium, even though the Broncos game isn’t until 1pm. I want to be there to try to greet the players’ bus and maybe meet John Elway, whom I have wanted to meet for 30 years. Gates open at 11am, and I will go in and watch warmups. After the game, I will most likely go over to the Horseshoe Casino and either celebrate the win or drown my sorrows after the loss (in the case of the latter, I will change into a Grizzlies shirt since we beat the Cavs this week). I will leave by 6am Monday morning, so I can be home by noon to work.