On a day in which the Denver Broncos lost once again to their greatest post-Elway nemesis, the Indianapolis Colts, I have decided to share seven of the great many reasons why the Denver Broncos are my favorite team.
7. Great Success in Hideous Throwback Uniforms
On two occasions this season, the Denver Broncos took the field in outfits more closely resembling those of the University of Wyoming than their own, and each time Denver prevailed against one of the league's flagship teams.
Defeating the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots in consecutive games is an impressive enough feat, but to do so dressed like a team from the Mountain West Conference is downright rootin' tootin'.
6. America's Greatest Famous Fan
The New York Jets may claim Fireman Ed, the Oakland Raiders have the Black Hole's shoulder spiked residents, and the Cleveland Browns' Dog Pound features a bunch of guys and gals wearing studded collars and rubber dog masks.
In fact, nearly every team has a recognizable superfan who represents the rooting interests of the home team each week, but one would be hard pressed to find a fan possessing the dedication and bravado of Denver's recently deceased Barrel Man .
Wearing nothing more than a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and a Broncos' logoed barrel held up with suspenders, Denver supporters could long rest assured that Barrel Man would be in the stands urging the men in orange to victory, whether it was 70 degrees on opening day or -10 on a December Monday night.
Tim McKernan, who passed away last week, only missed four games in over four decades as a Broncos ticket holder. His dedication and commitment to his team, his family, and friends are characteristics everyone should emulate and respect.
Rest in peace, Barrel Man.
5. Denver's Orange Crush Defense
Aside from the Steel Curtain and the Purple People Eaters, Denver's Orange Crush has the best nickname of any defensive unit in NFL history.
I am too young to remember watching the original O.C.D., but Broncos defenders Karl Mecklenburg, Rulon Jones, Simon Fletcher, Greg Kragen, Lyle Alzado, and Dennis Smith helped form my earliest Denver memories.
All-Pro safety Steve Atwater's devastating tackle of Christian Okoye was one of the hardest hits of the 1990s and several other defensive stars, including John Mobley, Al Wilson, John Lynch, Champ Bailey, Elvis Dumervil, D.J. Williams, and Brian Dawkins have continued Denver's defensive tradition in recent years up until today.
4. They're Not the Raiders
No Black Hole, no Al Davis, 'nuff said. The Raiders are evil and Al Davis is Montgomery Burns. How many skeletons do you know with such a dogged commitment to "excellence?"
3. Terrell Davis and the Mile High Salute
Terrell Davis only played in seven NFL seasons, but in that short period of time, he put together a Hall of Fame caliber career including a four-year opening stretch in which he amassed 6,413 yards, a pair of NFL Offensive MVP awards and a Super Bowl MVP.
Known to his teammates and fans as T.D., Davis created one of the league's most understated, classy and popular scoring celebrations when he honored the Denver faithful with his post-touchdown Mile High Salute.
Unfortunately, T.D.'s career was shortened by leg injuries and a degenerative knee condition that never allowed him to fully recover from a pair of seemingly routine surgeries, but make no mistake, Terrell Davis is one of the greatest runners to play the game and a Denver Broncos icon.
2. The Big Game
I have watched hundreds of great Broncos games over the years, but those etched most vividly in my memory and heart have also been among the most important in team history, for better and for worse.
I suffered with Dan Reeves' AFC Champions during devastating Super Bowl losses to the Giants, Redskins, and 49ers in my earliest years as a Broncos fan and I rejoiced with Mike Shanahan's back-to-back Super Bowl champions following wins over the Packers and Falcons in the late 1990s.
In 23 years, I have ascended to victory's summit and sunk to the depths of defeat with my team as only a true fan may, and these experiences have shaped my relationship with the Broncos as I have remained a faithful supporter throughout.
However, the main reason I love the Broncos is...
1. Number Seven
John Elway is Mr. Bronco.
Dan Marino and Brett Favre passed for more touchdowns, and Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, and Tom Brady can flaunt more Super Bowl rings, but John Elway played with a swagger, a style, and a confidence that make him the greatest in my eyes.
Elway's tailback legs, bazooka arm, and uncanny ability to lead his team to improbable comeback wins cemented his status as a legend of the game and a first ballot Hall of Famer.
With No. 7 at quarterback, the Broncos nearly always had a chance to win the game and they did so more often than not.
Mr. Elway will always be my favorite Bronco, the reason I became a fan and, I believe, one of the greatest and most important quarterbacks to ever play the game.
More importantly, though, he played a positive role in many of my fondest childhood memories as a sports fan and he was instrumental in shaping me into the Denver Broncos fan I am today.
Congratulations to Denver wideout Brandon Marshall for setting a new NFL single-game receiving record with 21 grabs today in a 28-16 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The Three Amigos would be proud.
Kyle Orton also passed for a pair of touchdowns and completed nearly 80 percent of his passes on a day in which he outplayed Peyton Manning between the 20's but could not lead his team to victory.