Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

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January 19, 2014
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Football fan rituals: They’re only weird if they don’t work

If you’ve watched any football games this year on television, you’ve more than likely seen a Bud Light commercial with the theme “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work” in reference to the superstitions and rituals football fans will go through to help their teams.

Even the players themselves have their own rituals, from the order they put on their equipment to the music they listen to in pregame warm-ups. A story was posted this week on the Denver Broncos team website explaining how for the past two seasons, one of Peyton Manning’s game-day rituals is always to drive tight end Jacob Tamme and wide receiver Eric Decker from the team hotel to the stadium.

Some fans take their rituals and superstitions to a different level. In Seattle, a woman and her daughter told a radio station that their ritual is to make 22 figurines out of Spam to represent the opposing team, and during the game, they eat the heads off the Spam players one by one.

Football fans in Aspen may not have the same cannibalistic instincts as those two Seattle fans, but many have their own routines that they have to go through on game day. Here’s a sample of the local rituals and routines:

“I refuse to wear my No. 87 Eric Decker jersey on game days because I’m convinced it’s cursed. I’ve worn it twice this season, and the Broncos lost both games.” — Regan Richey, server at Finbarr’s Irish Pub in Aspen

“I have a 30-year-old, lucky orange Broncos scarf that I always make my dog Aerie wear on game days. My husband, LeRoy, and I only watch games from home to avoid distractions — we’re serious fans and have to concentrate.” — Janet Jones, clerk for the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners

“I yell a lot — no, I scream a lot during Broncos games. The one thing I have to do is when the opposition attempts a field goal, I wave my arms and use body language to alter the flight of the ball. It’s particularly odd because I almost always watch the games by myself.” — Jane Achey, paralegal, Pitkin County Attorney’s Office

“I watch all the Denver games at the Aspen Elks Lodge. Usually, no hats are allowed in the lodge, but for Broncos games, hats are allowed, and I have a particular orange hat I have to wear. My husband, Jamie, has a homemade Broncos vest he has to wear, and he’s worn it for every Broncos game for the past 20 years. In fact, I’m not sure it’s ever been cleaned in the past 20 years.” — Tammie Driscol, elections lead assistant, Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office

“My mom, Lisa, is a huge Patriots fan. She makes everyone root for New England if they watch a game at our house. I had a friend come over during the New England-Carolina game this year, and he was rooting for the Panthers. Now he’s not allowed to come over during a Patriots game unless he roots for New England. My mom also said if the Patriots beat Denver this weekend, we’re going to the Super Bowl.” — Braden Haisfield, 9, a New England fan (whether he likes it or not)

“I have to, and I mean have to, watch the entire Broncos game. Even if Denver is way ahead, it seems that if I stop watching, bad things happen. I’m totally committed to watching the Broncos from start to the bitter end of every game, no matter what the score is.” — Cathy Rusnak, operations manager, Aspen Youth Center

“Former County Commissioner Bob Child and I shared an avid love of the Broncos. Back in the day, we struck a deal: If the Broncos made it to the Super Bowl, he would buy a Broncos T-shirt and I would climb out on the second-story ledge of the courthouse and drape Lady Justice with the T-shirt the week before the game. The first time, we discovered she was not a solid statute but held only by a piece of rebar in her center — thus she moved slightly when touched! Being that the ledge is only about 2 inches wide, it gave Bob and I a bit of a scare, but we were undeterred. We cut the shirt and draped it on her and taped it up the back. The next time, we knew what we were getting into. Of course, all this was done quietly after hours. If the Broncos make it to the big game this year (and I am ever so hopeful), I am counting on Commissioner Steve Child to fill in the boots of his dad and help me continue the ritual. Have fun, and go Broncos!” — Hilary Fletcher, former Pitkin County manager

“My late grandparents were huge Broncos fans. My grandmother, Jessie Kittle, lived in Basalt, and every game-day morning when Denver played, she would have my grandfather Elden raise a Denver Broncos flag at their house. If the Broncos won, the flag would fly for another day. If they lost, the flag would fly at half-mast. I’m sure they’re up there in heaven all excited right now, and I’m sure my grandfather still has his flag-raising duties.” — Mark Kittle, chief building official, Snowmass Village

“For every Broncos game, I wear my old-school Broncos T-shirt that I don’t wash during the season. Then I wear my Von Miller jersey on top of the T-shirt. We watch all the Broncos games at Zane’s in Aspen, and we have to sit at a particular set of tables. My friend and Broncos buddy, Noelle Gunn, has to sit on my right, and whenever there’s an intense situation during a Denver game, we have to rub elbows. Noelle always brings her Broncos purse, a Broncos pint glass with a Broncos koozie for her glass, and she always wears her Broncos earrings. We have certain songs we sing when certain players make a big play. For example, when Demaryius Thomas makes a big play, we sing his name to the song ‘Notorious,’ by Duran Duran. My friends own the Square Grouper in Aspen, and they talked us into watching the Denver-Indianapolis game there, and we lost, so now we’re never watching a Denver game there again. We’re definitely hard-core and very superstitious.” — Loren Ryerson, assistant manager at Filson in Aspen

“I’m totally hard-core when it comes to Broncos games. My main ritual is wearing my Broncos gear every game day. I have orange underwear, socks, hat and shirt, but the coolest piece of Broncos clothing I own is a Denver jacket from the ’70s that I inherited from my dad with the old-school logo on it. Once the snow is here, I’ll ski in that outfit every game day, for sure. I don’t consider myself really superstitious, but for this weekend I’m not talking any trash whatsoever. I’m sticking with good vibes only. Go Broncos!” — Brad Unglert, waiter, The Red Onion

“We’ve been enjoying Broncos games together for more than a decade. Each of us has our own superstitions and rituals. We all have light-up dreadlocks that we don’t turn on until the opening kickoff. I also own a vuvuzela noisemaker that I blow once — and only once — every time Denver scores a touchdown. Not for field goals or extra points, only touchdowns. Cindy is all about the orange and blue. She always wears her Broncos neck chain with the bronco-head insignia as well as her two blue and orange bracelets. Donna always brings a blue-and-orange tablecloth to every game — OK, it’s really a scarf, but it’s huge. There’s definitely some juju going on with the scarf. She always wears her orange miniskirt, which looks great on her. All three of us own spirit-finger gloves — gloves with little pom-poms at the end of each finger. We love to use the spirit fingers to lead cheers with. This year, when all three of us were together for a game, the Broncos won. The two times we weren’t all together, they lost.” — Penny Richey, with her friends Cindy Christensen and Donna Rowlands

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 19, 2014 10:06AM Published Jan 21, 2014 06:34PM Copyright 2014 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.