What a weekend.
It was the ultimate weekend for this lifelong Denver Broncos fan, watching his team win a championship for the first time in 17 years.
And, the best part? My birthday weekend wasn’t thoroughly ruined by the Broncos getting thoroughly dominated in a Super Bowl, much as it was two years ago when Russell Wilson and the Seahawks ran roughshod over Denver on professional sports’ biggest stage.
I celebrated my birthday Saturday evening with a large group of friends, many of whom couldn’t help but remind me of the Broncos’ historic futility in Super Bowls. I won’t say it put a damper on the night, but I will admit that it was in the back of my mind as I awoke to the remnants of a party that lasted into the wee hours and began preparing for the big game.
Those of us who have been Broncos fans since before Peyton Manning (and especially before the Tebowmania that preceded him) know how much pain Super Bowls normally bring.
Dallas 27, Denver 10.
New York Giants 39, Broncos 20.
Washington 42, Denver 10.
49ers 55, Broncos10.
Seattle 43, Denver 8.
I’ve been alive for four of those five defeats, and I remember the last three very well. The loss to the Seahawks made the wins against the Brett Favre-era Packers and the “Dirty Bird” Falcons seem like aberrations. I was prepared for another Seattle-style beat down.
Fortunately, one of my friends had brought over a chocolate cake the night before. So I was prepared for the seemingly inevitable “eating my feelings” phase that would happen somewhere around the time Coldplay took to the stage for the halftime show.
But something funny happened. This wasn’t going to be a typical Broncos Super Bowl. This was — different. The fear that Cam Newton was going to dissect Denver’s defense as Joe Montana, Doug Williams and Phil Simms had before him suddenly disappeared. Turnover after turnover and sack after sack kept the Panthers from ever mounting much of a threat.
I didn’t allow myself to celebrate too much until C.J. Anderson’s touchdown and Bennie Fowler’s two-point conversion gave the Broncos a 24-10 lead late in the game. I’ve been a Broncos fan long enough to know that if they can find a way to lose, they will do it in the most heartbreaking fashion possible. But as the clock struck triple-zero, and John Elway proclaimed, “this one’s for Pat” in honor of longtime Broncos owner Pat Bowlen as he hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy, I felt like all my years as a Broncos fan had been rewarded.
This one’s for Pat.
This one’s for Broncos fans everywhere.
Happy birthday to me, indeed.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He estimates that being a Broncos fan has probably cut his life expectancy in half. Email him at email@example.com.