The fan and the faker: a Broncos tale
We are given tickets, by kind friends, to a pre-season Broncos game. Roy, 9, is thrilled, until he realizes who is accompanying him.”I have to go with her?” he says, aghast.I say, “I’m not that bad.””You don’t know anything about football!”True, but I’m his only choice. My husband and our other son have a bike race that weekend. Given Roy’s intense love of the game and the fact that my sister Lucy and nephew live in Denver, I am willing. Lucy is also given tickets, coincidental since not one of us four has ever been to a Broncos game.”Mom. Don’t cheer for the opposition,” Roy warns before we leave for Denver. To my kids’ indignation, I cheer any good play at their soccer games.”I’ll try not to boo,” he hurriedly promises. “But I might have to.”On game day, I ask Roy, “Do you mind if I bring a book tonight?”He looks at me with wide, still eyes, trying to assimilate. Finally, he says, “I mind.”We four leave 90 minutes ahead, see the welcoming lights of Invesco Stadium from miles away, and are in it at 6 p.m., an hour early.Roy is part of an ocean of blue-and-orange jerseys (his reads, after careful choice, Champ Bailey); Sam, 4, wears a bright-orange sweatshirt. I am sheepish in rust color, Lucy indifferent in blue-and-white flowers.A large couple, all in orange and both in crowns, lumbers by, somewhat inexplicably shouting, “King! Queen!” A young man passes us in an orange sweat suit, “psyche ward” stenciled across his chest. Some people wear teetering hats of emblematic plastic horse heads.”The players are out on the field!” Roy shouts, grabbing my wrist. “There’s John Lynch, there’s John Lynch! Oh, boy, he’s good. There’s Jake Plummer!”From ringside, he sees the 49ers come out, and softly mocks, “Yeah, you better practice your punts, huh.”We hear Champ Bailey isn’t playing, and I say, looking at Roy concernedly, “That’s too bad.””No biggie,” Roy says. “He’s twisted something and they don’t want him on the wet grass.” I realize he views it only from the team’s perspective.Seated, we stomp our feet, we do the Wave, we shout, “In-com-plete.” We sing, “Be ready.”Roy is mesmerized. “Did you see that play? Jake Plummer faked everybody! He fake-handed it off to the guy and most people followed the guy.”After the first quarter, the backup quarterback, Bradley Van Pelt, is inserted. A nearby fan tells us he’s only two years out of college. “He’s going to be our number-one quarterback sometime,” she says.Starting to lose what little interest I have in the game, I put an arm around my happy kid. He shrugs away, shouting to the field, “Go deep!”By halftime Lucy is ready to go. Last night, when I arrived offering child care, she, a dutiful single parent, gladly stepped out with friends.Unable to sleep myself, I busted her returning at 2:15 a.m.”Sam’s tired,” she tells Roy now.Sam narrows his eyes. “You’re the one who’s tired,” he says. Or hungover? I mouth.The dusty sky deepens to navy, then pitch-black. At 9:25 the 49ers move ahead, 14 to 10.Three minutes later we get a touchdown, a handoff, Roy explains, that we’d bumped through.”The Broncs gotta be strong on defense,” he murmurs.On a punt return, Charlie Adams dodges and twists, doing a 360, threading his way incredibly quickly clear to the 49ers’ 25-yard line. Even I appreciate the great play. Then I fade again.”Some people are leaving,” I tell Roy.”I’m stayin’,” he says, and we do, until the end at 10:30. The Broncs win, 26 to 20. What we don’t realize is that a young 49ers player collapses as we walk to our car.What Roy remembers is Charlie Adams’ punt return.Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at email@example.com.
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