Adapting To Sports at 5280 Feet

Josh RhotenContributor IMay 27, 2009

25 Jan 1998:  Quarterback John Elway of the Denver Broncos in action during the Broncos 31-24 win over the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport

Growing up in Northern California I was brought up to be a true 49ers fan. When Steve Young and the Niners destroyed the Chargers in the Super Bowl I was hooked on football for life.

Outside of the occasional Raiders fan there was not much dissent in my schools or family. Many of the people I encountered on a day-to-day basis were Niners' fan and that was that.

When my dad moved us out to a suburb of Denver, I was exposed to a whole new kind of football experience. The Broncos were not only the biggest team in a town with teams in all five professional sports they were also by far the most talked about and the most beloved.

The fans of the city went to church on Sundays, but it was the church of orange and blue.

It was like the thin air had caused a critical devotion unlike any I had encountered before. These fans were well-informed and deeply passionate.

While the Niners had gained fans through championships and offense the Broncos were known for their lone gunman and last-second wizard John Elway. For the most part of their history they had suffered traumatic losses in the Super Bowl, but that seemed only to strengthen their fans resolve.

The fandom was not limited to school boys and older men. In fact, I saw just as many jerseys on women at the supermarket or on girls at my school. Their devotion drove me to learn more about the team, and, in turn, expand my understanding of the NFL.

While not a pure fan, I became a devoted observer. I shared the wins and losses with my more deeply devoted friends who had followed them since berth.

Since I arrived in Colorado, Denver football has been as or more interesting then most teams in the country. The team has become a staple of the AFC West and has popularized a zone-blocking scheme that does not look to go away anytime soon.

They have also made a slew of playoff appearances and have played the dark horse to Manning's Colts and Brady's Patriots. But a cloud has hung over them as of late due to a poor showing last season and an unceremonious knockout by their new rivals the Chargers.

Those story lines coupled with the constant search for Elway's replacement and a new coach in town makes this team one of the most fascinating teams in the NFL.