Even if Tim Tebow can’t carry the Denver Broncos to victory Sunday over the San Diego Chargers in the season finale, he has given all of Broncos Country one thing as a new year beckons:
Hope. Unyielding hope.
That may not sound like much to fans of other teams, but after what the normally fiercely loyal Broncos fans have been through the past two (and if you include the epic Shanahan collapse of 2008, three) seasons, you might as well have just handed them the Lombardi Trophy.
Think about all the Broncos faithful have been through the last two seasons. After blowing a three game lead in the AFC West in 2008, owner Pat Bowlen decided to clean house and fire Shanahan after he delivered the team’s only Super Bowl titles. Out was the established hand and in was a 32 year old hotshot from the three time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels almost immediately began taking trade offers for quarterback Jay Cutler and Cutler became irked. After an embarrassing back and forth between the quarterback and team, Cutler was shipped to the Chicago Bears for Kyle Orton and a pair of draft picks. Take another dustup with Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall, and another epic collapse after a 6-0 start, Broncos fans thought they’d hit rock bottom.
Then 2010 started.
After a disastrous 3-9 start coupled with a bad to sequel to the first Spygate scandal, McDaniels was fired and replaced on an interim basis by running backs Eric Studesville. After one game, Studesville turned to what may be the one bright light of the McDaniels era and what a bright light it could be:
Tim Tebow, the supposed Mile High Messiah.
After Orton suffered a rib injury, Tebow was given the Week 16 start against the Oakland Raiders. Even though the Broncos suffered another embarrassing defeat to their arch rivals, Tebow showed enough, including a spectacular 40 yard touchdown run on what Tebow and Studesville called a broken play (Tebow was actually graded a minus on it), that Studesville went ahead and gave the rookie another start at home against the Houston Texans.
At Mile High, Tebow brought the Mile High Magic back and in a big way.
Down 17-0 to the Texans, it seemed like Broncos fans were in for another letdown and another blowout loss.
Pardon the pun, but hold your horses.
With Tebow in command, the Broncos stormed back. Despite an admitted boneheaded interception in the end zone earlier in the game, the rookie quarterback bounced back and willed his team to a 24-23, running the game winning score from seven yards out in himself. Finishing the day with over 300 yards passing and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing), Tebow gave Broncos Country the best Christmas present they could have asked for after such a disastrous season:
It’s hard to believe that this was the same offense Orton was fizzling with only weeks earlier. He may be the better quarterback than Tebow right now, but No. 15 brought something to the huddle that Orton definitely was not bringing:
Passion. Fire. The “it” factor.
Whatever you want to call it, Tebow brought it. For anyone who doubts that, take a look at the SoundFX segment on NFL.com where Tebow was wired for sound during the Texans game. Did you ever see Orton running around shouting “LET’S GO!” to his teammates?
Didn’t think so.
After many years of suffering since the retirement of John Elway after winning Super Bowl XXXIII, Broncos fans seemingly finally have a quarterback they can fully embrace. Fans never really were behind Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, Cutler or Orton. Sure, they all had their backers but no player since Elway has brought the fans together like Tebow has.
Speaking of Elway, it sounds like it is just a matter of time before it is announced that he will be joining the Broncos front office in some kind of executive capacity. What authority Elway will have exactly remains to be seen, but having him back in the organization can only be a good thing.
Tebow at quarterback and Elway in the front office to surround him with talent and advise the young quarterback.
Sounds like Orange and Blue Heaven to me.
Even with the imminent hiring of a new head coach, all of Broncos Country seems to have reborn with such great optimism. Maybe they don’t have to sit through years of losing before even tasting contention like the Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs have. Maybe the corner will be turned much sooner than anyone expected.
Broncos fans, you can see clearly now. The rain has gone and a new age is ahead.