It was the boo heard 'round the world. No, it wasn't a dry run for Halloween. It was the sound of fans expressing their disappointment at Kyle Orton's poor performance late in the fourth quarter of Monday night's game against the Oakland Raiders.
The final score was 23-20 with the Raiders on top and it was a night in which many records and streaks were broken. Sebastian Janikowski sailed in a 63-yard field goal to tie the record for longest field goal and the Broncos lost, ending their 11-year streak of consecutive home opener wins. But the real story here isn't record-tying field goals or a tough grudge match between rivals. It's about what being a real NFL fan means.
As a fan, are you allowed to boo the starting quarterback? Can you start a Facebook page petitioning the coach to bench him? Could you even buy a billboard and plaster it with calls for the backup QB to start? My contention is yes. Yes you can!
Since when did being a "real" fan mean that you follow a coach's plan for the team blindly and without question? I know that the game of football is not a democracy, but it does share some similarities. For example, the people as a whole in a democracy cry out to their government through protests, demonstrations and voting when they want their voices heard.
So, how do football fans get their voices heard? I suppose through the buying of team merchandise, game tickets and humorous uses of body paint in their team's colors. But all of those measures are those of support for the team. What about a fan's displeasure in their team? Of all the members that make up an NFL team, why do the fans rank on the bottom?
Isn't it the fans that purchase the above-mentioned merchandise, jerseys and season tickets that ultimately fund and fatten the pockets of the players, the coaches and those in the highly-esteemed front office? Why then do they have no right to express their frustration over how their team is managed? I guess the better question to ask is: If no fans show up for a football game, does it really exist?
Maybe I'm mixing my metaphors, but I hope my point is clear. Right now the Denver Broncos and their fanbase are definitely going through some growing pains. There seems to be a distinct group of those fans that proudly (and possibly blindly) follow Head Coach Fox's plan for the team and will argue until they are orange and blue in the face that to question him is blasphemy.
The argument made is that unless you're a current NFL coach or a previous one, then you're not at liberty to disparage the coach or his choices. The other half of the Broncos Nation seem to be overwhelmingly Tim Tebow supporters. They argue that if we're going down, at least let's go down with a charismatic young QB at the helm.
Ultimately, I believe that the Mile High Stadium is big enough to hold all of its many fans, be they pro-Orton or pro-Tebow, but be forewarned. If the Broncos continue to play like they did Monday night, the Continental Divide may not be the only large rift in the state of Colorado.
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