Are you ready for some football? | AspenTimes.com

Are you ready for some football?

Paul E. Anna

Got Jake on your fantasy team? Think Ron Dayne will make Tatum Bell go the way of Quentin Griffin? Will Mike Anderson’s sore ribs heal in time to be of help? Can Ashley Lelei finally catch the ball instead of just exude potential?The answers to these questions are not very important in the grand scheme of things, what with war and catastrophic storms lingering around the edges of our insulated lives. But to staunch fans of football, in general, and the Denver Broncos, in particular, these are the questions that try men’s minds. This is the time of year when reason takes flight and the exploits of 53 unusually fast and unnaturally large men come front and center.Yesterday was the first day of fall, but for Broncos fans, fall began more than a month ago when Mike Shanahan gathered the troops for training camp with the usual optimism. Optimism that some say was unfounded for a team that has not won a playoff game since its Super Bowl victory in 1999, is helmed by a quarterback with a penchant for throwing passes to the wrong team, and a defensive line that has been retooled from, of all places, Cleveland.But … that’s why they play the games.Aspen, in fact, all of Colorado, has had a unique relationship with its Broncos since they first suited up on Oct. 2, 1960, at Bears Stadium in Denver for their home opener. (It was, appropriately, a victory over the Oakland Raiders.) In the ensuing 45 years, fans have suffered with the Donkeys (as they are referred to when losing) and exulted as well. Who can forget Saint John doing the helicopter and leading the team to not one, but two ultimate championships?This year things are a little on edge. They lost their opener to a team, the Miami Dolphins, that may not win again this season and came back last week to nip the San Diego Chargers on the strength of Jason Elam’s (the longest-tenured current Bronco) right foot.On Monday night, they will take to Invesco Field under the bright lights for their last appearance on ABC’s Monday Night Football (the show moves to cable next year). If they win, their fans in Aspen – many of whom will gather to bask in the glow of the giant screens at Belly Up – will head into the autumn night flush with that aforementioned optimism. But if they lose … well, then you’ll be left with deciding whether to leave Jake on your fantasy bench next week.