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Broncos have taken me on a wild ride

Confessions of a Broncos fanDale Shrull

I can’t really remember when I became a Bronco fan.Seems like forever. Through it all, I’ve experienced more ups and downs than a 747. The Broncos were so bad for so long that I actually picked a second favorite team. As luck would have it, that choice would lead to a double-dose of suffering.Every year as the Broncos flailed along I also rooted for the Minnesota Vikings. Then the Vikings went on to lose four Super Bowls. The Broncos have provided me with a long and unbelievable ride.In 1978 I watched the Dallas Cowboys lasso the Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl XI.Then in 1983, a spoiled cocky quarterback from Stanford was traded to Denver.It allowed me to think the impossible was possible. With John Elway at quarterback, anything was possible.But that soon led to excruciating torment.As the Jake Plummer-led Broncos prepare for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, my blind devotion has now wavered. I don’t care like I once did.Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still want them to win. But as a Bronco fan, I have a different view now.I’m not greedy. I still want them to win on Sunday, and take a third title on Feb. 5, but if they don’t, so be it.I’m still a Bronco fan but things have indeed changed. That’s what happens when you wait for so long and want something so badly.That’s what happens when torment finally turns to euphoria.After No. 7 arrived, hope was my constant companion. As he struggled, I agonized.A Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants in 1987 hurt, but it inflamed my optimism.The next year, I faced a different kind of misery.The Broncos jumped out to a 10-0 lead in Super Bowl XXII.Finally! Super Bowl victory would be ours!That’s when a no-name running back named Timmy Smith ran for 204 yards and the Washington Redskins scored 35 points in the second quarter. I’d seen enough and turned off the TV. The final was 42-10.My resolve was eroding; my misery was rising.I’d seen The Drive, The Fumble, The Drive II, I’d seen Elway do super-human feats that gave me hope; and I’d seen No. 7 play with the effectiveness of an Amish electrician.Torment, misery, excitement, … – I’d seen it all; all except a Super Bowl victory.The worse day as a Bronco fan came on Super Sunday in 1990 as the San Francisco 49ers annihilated the Broncos 55-10.I turned the TV off long before halftime.Years of disappointment wears you down. Suffering sucks away hope.The Vikings – four Super Bowl losses; the Broncos – four Super Bowl losses.Boy can I pick ’em.Then, my suffering and misery and decades of waiting would end.Jan. 25, 1998 – the Broncos are heavy underdogs to the Green Bay Packers, but I suddenly believed again. Shakespeare couldn’t have created more drama.This would be the day when decades of disappointment, torment, agony and suffering would end.Led by running back Terrell Davis, it was Broncos 31, Packers 24.To this day, I can’t describe what I felt. After so many years there were so many emotions. Sheer joy and a dash of disbelief. I’d waited for so long, and finally, the Broncos won it all.I knew that the wait, the torment, the decades of disappointment, suffering and hope were all ingredients that made that first Super Bowl win so special.First date, first kiss, first base, first time, first car, first game, first anything. You never get a second first. That’s why firsts are so special. Especially when you wait so long.I actually feel sorry for those fans that don’t suffer.Red Sox fans know that torment. So do White Sox fans. Cubs fans are still in misery. The Viking faithful and those beleaguered Buffalo Bills fans (Four straight Super Bowl losses – that’s just plain cruel.) know pain and suffering. And how about those poor fans of the Colts? “Wait till next year” – it’s the rallying cry of every team but one every season. All fans should suffer. It builds character. Players too. It humbles people.On Jan. 31, 1999, Denver won Super Bowl XXXIII to make it back-to-back titles. Their 34-19 win over Atlanta was special. It was Elway’s final game and he was the MVP.The second win was satisfying but not the same. It was like dessert. And now I could move on. I was indeed satisfied. What more could I have asked for?After so long, the two Super Bowl wins left me fulfilled. Let someone else enjoy the fruits of victory.I’d cheered and cursed my Broncos, many times on the same play. That’s the torment and ecstasy of being a fan.Some players remain from the glory days but this is a different Broncos team. Comparing this year to ’98-99 is like opening Christmas presents in August – it’s just not the same.It’s been seven years. Elway is in the Hall of Fame, Mile High Stadium is now a parking lot and my appetite for victory has diminished.I’ll always be a Bronco fan but I’ve seen it all, and I am satisfied.Come Sunday, I’ll be a little greedy. But fans always want more.Sunday’s outcome will be kind of ironic. Depending on what happens, I’ll either be happy or disappointed.That’s what the Broncos have done to me for more than three decades.All I know is losses will never hurt like they once did, and the victories will never be as Super as they once were.But who am I kidding – after so much torment, two just ain’t enough. I’ll take one more Super Bowl victory – then I’ll be satisfied.What can I say, I’m a fan. We’re all greedy.


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