With what has long been known to be the last game of the Denver Broncos' 2010 season upon us, my wife and I readied ourselves for the bitter cold that would meet us soon.
I with my undershirt, jeans, heavy socks and vintage (and still "very good/excellent" condition) Vice President of Operations jersey. OK, John Elway jersey for those just awakening from a coma.
I also pulled out my old Denver "D" logo leather "letterman style" jacket from 1996 for this day. I knew it was special somehow.
My wife with her own undershirt, nylons, heavy socks and equally vintage (also "very good/excellent" condition) Ed McCaffrey jersey. We were ready. Game on. We were ready for what we thought was simply another game.
We made our way to a light rail station along I-25. We were headed to the pregame festivities at the Comcast "VIP Pre-Game Party." By 11:50am, we were on our way to Invesco on the "E Line" to see what magic Tim Tebow and the suddenly scrappy Denver Broncos had up their sleeves for the visiting San Diego Chargers.
I voiced my curiosities as to whether interim head coach Eric Studesville and the Broncos would open the rest of the playbook, since this was an audition of sorts—particularly for Studesville.
Upon exiting the light-rail car at the Invesco Field at Mile High station, we sloshed through melted snow and ice past the dozens of folks peddling their wares. We were offered peanuts, burritos, water, "fresh frozen water" and homemade jerseys and shirts. My favorite was a silhouette of Eddie Royal with the phrase "I'll have a Royal with Cheese!" What did that mean? Dunno, but it was a hit with other passersby.
As we crossed under Interstate 25, which runs right in front of Invesco Field at Mile High on its east side for those who don't know, we turned south to make our way to the gated Comcast Cable building. My wife's employer was advertising there, so we gained entry upon her company's name.
I have been to some of the greatest games in both the old Mile High and this "upgraded" one, but yesterday was something different. It was a day of "firsts." Why am I telling you this? Because it was the experience of this day that mattered. The game itself, a 33-28 loss to the San Diego Chargers, mattered little by comparison. I will explain how as I go along.
The stand for my wife's employer was well manned, and she was told her help was not necessary—"All covered," I was told by the kindly Elvis impersonator manning it. Stellar! I grabbed two Budweiser Shock Top Belgian Whites from the bar and made my way over to one of the tables under the protective tent. There were roughly a dozen tables or so, each seating up to 10 people, if packed tight.
Upon arriving there, my brother-in-law Tom and his decades-long heterosexual life partner "Kurty" were waiting. Here began the day of "firsts."
Shortly after we settled in at the table, we began taking in the surroundings and talking a bit. Soon we were approached by a twenty-something couple who asked if they could join our table.
Meghan (sp?) arrived decked out in an Osi Umenyiora N.Y. Giants jersey and Yankees hat. Her boyfriend Philip (You know...like Philip Rivers") was allowed a seat next to me in spite of his obviously newly acquired San Diego Chargers LaDainian Tomlinson jersey. How do I know it was "new?" Meghan later confirmed to me that it was purchased just for this game.
My wife and I were quick friends with these two grad students from the University of Denver. It also helped that Meghan was, like myself, of the feeling that football was amongst one of only three "real sports" in the world. I concurred.
Phil "Like Philip Rivers" advised me that he used to cover soccer. Meghan was quick to point out that that was not one of the "real three." Caustic wit? Check. A flair for sarcasm and ill-timed humor? Check. Good additions both.
We were also joined by Bob, a gentleman of considerable intelligence who wore a simple grey sweater and C.U. Buffaloes hat. Because of the hat, I asked his opinion of the recent hiring of Jon Embree. It turned out he had "insider info" that he was picked over newly minted Buffs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy because Embree was far more "diplomatic," while Bieniemy was the "wrecking ball." My hopes for their future grew a shard on that exchange alone.
The best part came soon after their arrival. They revealed to us that this would be Meghan's first ever pro football game, and that Phil "Like Philip Rivers" had acquired seats in the upper level. I got the sense it was his first time entering Invesco, if not his first ever game too. A plan hatched, one that involved—as I informed Bob—a bit of chicanery. This is what is called "foreshadowing"...stick with me.
After a few beers and test tubes of Jagermeister, provided by Comcast at no charge, things got downright silly.
I was, as a vegetarian, assured by my brother-in-law Tom and his heterosexual life partner "Kurty" that the prime rib being offered was from "dairy cows" and the cuts were "from the vegetarian side of the cow." Meghan, herself an admitted vegetarian, was as suspicious of this news as I. She stuck to the cheese pizza. Good call for us to refrain—methinks we were being led astray.
Then came the first "first" of this day. Meghan saw a woman holding a black and orange Jagermeister jersey. She wanted badly to know how to acquire her own. I made my way over to the woman holding the jersey, and she told me how to get it. I was sure Meghan was game for the task she would face if she wanted her own.
Upon arriving back at the table, I relayed the instructions given me by the jersey-wielding stranger. Meghan must make her way to the bar, request said jersey...and offer to do the "Chicken Dance" if she wanted any chance at such a jersey.
Meghan's "Frodo Baggins" moment had found her. The jersey called her to the bar. We all hoped she met a positive end. A few minutes later she returned, jersey in hand. Huzzah! She had completed her quest and did not need an eagle upon which to ride to get back to us.
Soon thereafter, Kathy from Comcast brought by some more drinks. For a lightweight like myself, I was done—having had my fourth soon before. She informed us that it was almost game time, so drinks should be had now if desired. I invited her to do a shot with us, but she could not. I informed her that some Rocky Mountain fresh melted snow was trickling off the tent. She was not aware of this being a possible drink replacement, but after I assured her it was, she shared a drink with us. Beer and Jager on our side. Tent water for Kathy. FAN-tastic.
After getting a reading suggestion from Bob (Will Leach, God Save the Fan), he was off. A good man, quiet in his way, but intelligent in the game of football and funny to boot.
With kickoff now only a few minutes away, my brother-in-law Tom, his heterosexual life partner "Kurty," Phil "Like Philip Rivers," Meghan of "Jager-quest" fame, my wife and I all set out for the stands.
I will skip the tale of entry lines, pat downs and the departure of my brother-in-law Tom and his heterosexual life partner Kurty" to their seats so as to get to the best part of this day. For the best part of this day was not on the field for the remaining four of us. It was in the adventure during the game, and the evolution of experience and visual perspective of the game that truly made this day.
Phil "Like Philip Rivers" and Meghan of "Jager-quest" fame wanted to see their seats. Phil "Like Philip Rivers" had purchased them as a gift for Meghan of "Jager-quest" fame, so this was only right. Here is where the plan was hatched that involved the aforementioned chicanery.
If Phil "Like Philip Rivers" and Meghan of "Jager-quest" fame were displeased with their seats, we would get them into the first level with my wife and I. How, you ask? Well, that involved some master planning—some "strategery," if you will. I offered my phone number to them, and they would call if the plan was to be hatched. I dare not disclose the details. One never knows who is reading.
Shortly after the first quarter ended, I got the call. They were "in" for the plan.
After some glad-handing by yours truly, some slight of hand and other assorted "black ops style" maneuvers, Phil "Like Philip Rivers" and Meghan of "Jager-quest" fame were at their newly upgraded seats. OK, in the name of full disclosure, we just walked right past security. They were mesmerized by Tim Tebow. Wasn't hard.
If you are still with me, I will now tell you the point of this long-winded telling of our day. I am sure some will surely call it worse...have at it.
The game was itself entertaining, but two grad students, one originally from each coastline (Meghan from the East Coast, Phil from the West), took in their first pro football game in a fashion that involved a dripping tent water-drinking corporate executive, heterosexual life partners cracking wise, a jersey quest, collecting of Jagermeister test tubes, some "strategery" that bred chicanery—which ultimately led to them upgrading their seats from nosebleeds to first level end zone.
We should all have such stories to tell younger generations in years to come. Though it may or may not be with one another, Phil "Like Philip Rivers" and Meghan of "Jager-quest" fame will take a youngster to a live sporting event one day...and get to tell this story. The wonder and joy on their faces then will match yesterday's, I hope.
In the disappointing fog of a season like Denver fans have endured in 2010, it is all too easy to forget the wonder that can come from simply seeing the game. Watching a fiery competitor like Tim Tebow mount a massive comeback and fall an onside recovery and two "Hail Mary" tosses short of a miracle comeback is magic. Pure and simple.
Going from nosebleed to first level end zone, Jager-quest jersey in hand, for your first ever game? Well, that is pretty awe-inspiring too.
For more of my thoughts on all things Denver Broncos and assorted other happenings, follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/fuschumang
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