It was one of the most bizarre scenes of this and perhaps any other NFL season.
In the waning moments of the Tennessee Titans' 41-17 romp over the Buffalo Bills, there was Titans owner Bud Adams giving Bills' fans a two-middle finger salute that just happened to be caught by a fan's iPhone camera. The impromptu celebration led the league to fine Adams $250,000, pocket change to the man for sure.
This is where the joy of being a fan comes in. Fans can go to the game and show whomever they want on the field the bird and not face a fine like that. Now, showing the finger to fellow fan may earn them a black eye, but let's keep our attention on the people on the field.
In the Denver Broncos' 50 year history, there have been plenty of villains worthy of a one fingered Mile High Salute. Here is a list of just 10:
1. Jay Cutler
Let's start with the incredibly obvious one. Now, the reason behind giving Cutler the finger is not that his selfish behavior and immediate trade doomed the franchise to years of misery, in fact, it's had the opposite effect as evidenced by the Broncos' surprising run this season.
Cutler's main offense is that he basically desecrated the team Broncos fans hold so near and dear to their heart. Note to any future Broncos quarterback: never EVER say you have a stronger arm than John Elway before you have even led the Broncos to a winning season, let alone a playoff berth; Cutler did it.
His second offense is that in the immediate weeks preceding his trade to Chicago, Cutler blew off not only Josh McDaniels, but Pat Bowlen;big no no. Never ever blow off the owner, especially one as well respected as Mr. Bowlen.
2. Bill Romanowski
This one hurts more than Cutler to me because "Romo" was the heart and soul of the Broncos defense that won Super Bowls XXXII and XXIII. The thing is, I'm not talking about Romanowski hacking a loogie in the face of JJ Stokes during a game against the 49ers in the regular season. Romanowski did something potentially even worse;he signed with the Oakland Raiders.
As if that act of treason wasn't bad enough, in his post football career, he has now become the Silver and Black's biggest cheerleader. As evidence, take a look at his Twitter feed.
For shame, sir. For shame.
3. Wade Phillips
The head coach who never should have been hired.
After the Broncos had a fallout with Dan Reeves following the 1992 season, Bowlen opted to hire Phillips. The move made sense as Phillips was Reeves' friend and protege, but secretly it seemed everyone knew that franchise quarterback John Elway wanted Mike Shanahan.
A 9-7 season in 1993 followed by a 7-9 season in 1994 led to Phillips' firing and hiring of Shanahan. Some believe Elway would have gotten his first ring sooner had Shanahan been hired right away in 1993,we'll never know.
4. Willie Clark
OK, we've had some fun, but it's time to be serious. For those of you who don't know who Willie Clark is he is the man who is accused of (and has confessed to) the murder of Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams on New Year's Eve 2006.
Williams was leaving a party with teammate Javon Walker when their limousine came under fire with Williams reportedly dying in Walker's lap.
Williams had just concluded a promising 2006 season in which he recorded 86 tackles and four interceptions. It seemed like he was a rising star for the Broncos.
It was a sad and senseless death and Broncos fans have Clark's stupidity to thank for that.
5. Jake Plummer
I realize Plummer still has some backers amongst Broncos fans even today and he did lead the Broncos to their lone playoff victory since the retirement of Elway.
That said, Plummer made an incredibly stupid decision after a game in 2006 when Plummer decided to tell Broncos fans they were number one, but in a not-so-nice way.
Fans were already on the fence with Plummer and this little incident no doubt made the calls to start the then-rookie Cutler even louder. Plummer's penchant for making mistakes coupled with this little doozie are what put the Jay Cutler era on track for the Broncos.
Oh, the irony.
6. Any Oakland Raiders fan
It's a rivalry, both teams hate each other, as do their respective fans. Shanahan's feud with Raiders owner Al Davis only added fuel to what was a fire already burning out of control.
Couple this with the Broncos and Raiders slugging it out for playoff berths in the early part of this decade, and you have a recipe for a rivalry filled with blood curdling hate.
7. Analysts and the sports media in general
Doomed. Screwed. Destined for a top 10 pick in the 2010 draft.
Those were all words and phrases used to describe how the Broncos would fare doing the 2009 season. While the season isn't quite over and the Broncos are currently in the midst of a three game losing streak, it's pretty safe to say the media disrespected not only Bowlen and McDaniels, but Broncos fans as well.
They thought the fanbase would be split after the divisive debate following the trade of Cutler; nope, didn't happen. Broncos fans proved it was team first and individual player second, just like the team itself believes.
8. The Jacksonville Jaguars
OK, it's not a person, but rather a collective sum of people.
No Broncos fan will ever forget the excitement of the 1996 regular season, only to be followed by the heartbreak of the 30-27 defeat to the Jaguars at home in the divisional round.
This was supposed to be the season the Broncos put everything together and finally won the Super Bowl, instead, it was only another early round fizzle.
Yes, the Broncos got revenge in the wild card round of the playoffs the following season, but still many fans believe that the Jaguars robbed the Broncos of the chance to be the first team to win three consecutive Super Bowl titles.
9. Kent Graham
It looked like the 1998 Denver Broncos would finally do it.
After starting the season 13-0, the Broncos faced what should have been an easy win against the Giants in week 15. The Broncos just came off an emotional win at home over Kansas City that set the stage for the Broncos to complete the first perfect regular season since the Miami Dolphins did it in 1972, but not if Kent Graham had anything to say about it.
Graham replaced the struggling Danny Kanell earlier in the season because the Giants needed this game to keep their playoff hopes alive. A desperation heave by Kanell to Amani Toomer sealed a win and ended the Broncos dream of an 19-0 season.
10. Al Davis
Heck, even Raiders and Broncos fans can agree to something together. Find a big enough idiot and everyone can rally against him.
There you go Broncos fans, now tell them they're number one.
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