Disclaimer: This column is long over due; I never sat down to write this when I should have, but it certainly makes for appropriate offseason rant material.
Last September, I made my first trip to see an NFL game at a stadium not located in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Living in the Boston area, and having a good friend of mine residing in Denver, I took advantage of his corporate perks and visited Invesco Field at Mile High.
While taking in the game from a luxury suite may not be the best way to experience the energy of an NFL crowd, the noise levels during the game were still more than impressive.
The Broncos defeated the New Orleans Saints that day, 34-32. The competitiveness of the game was certainly icing on top of the cake in terms of my visit to Invesco. Along with being treated to an entertaining football game, the temperature was perfect and the sun was shining.
My experience was a memorable one, and I found the stadium to be top-notch. While certain amenities appeared slightly outdated, such as the tube TV in our luxury suite, the overall appearance of the stadium was clean and modern.
We didn't tailgate that day, but from what I saw there appeared to be ample parking lot areas for tailgating.
Broncos fans deserve credit for being on their feet and making noise independent of the game situation. They are not the wine-and-cheese types who only get rowdy on third down.
These fans were loud and proud to be supporting their Broncos, and their energy could be felt throughout the stadium.
Prior to my attendance at Invesco, my NFL game experience was limited to Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium and Gillette Stadium. The former of which was certainly rowdy and featured animalistic Pats fans just looking to have a good time, and they made their fair share of noise.
The replacement for the frenzied Foxboro Stadium has been anything but energetic. Attending games at Gillette Stadium might remind you of a peaceful Sunday Mass.
No joke. And I'm not knocking anyone here, I'm just being brutally honest.
From having a neighboring fan consistently screaming, "Sit down," all game long, to a letter being sent to the season ticket holder's address warning that our behavior was "obnoxious" and cited how we were standing and yelling all game.
Over time I have grown a bitter disgust with the current environment at Gillette Stadium.
Part of Gillette's quiet nature may be the alignment of the seating, the vast amount of space between seating levels, and the open ends of the venue.
But even with those factors considered, the noise level is downright pathetic.
But let's not cloud my rave review of Invesco Field with my distaste for Foxborough.
Invesco was a refreshing reminder of how NFL fans should behave when their team is playing. They should stand and they should scream. The stadium should erupt with noise all game long.
That's what Sunday is all about.
My experience in Denver had me ascend from a casual observer in the opening quarter, to a screaming animal in the second half, roaring and rooting on the beloved men in orange.
The sight lines of the field were good, and the condition of the seating areas was great. The stadium is not exactly old by any measure, so my expectations were high to begin with, and they were certainly met.
One feature present at Gillette but lacking in Denver, which explains the large spaces between seating levels at Gillette, is an open aired concession area. While grabbing a beer or some food in Foxboro, fans can still see the field and thus don't feel as though they are in a closed-off hallway.
In Denver, the concession areas are completely enclosed, with no sight lines of the field of play. That remains my only negative comment about Denver, the Broncos, and the gameday experience.
So thank you Denver, and thank you Broncos fans.
I had a fantastic time, and would love to visit there again.