Roger Marolt: Bleeding orange through hot wing-induced arterial sclerosis
There is a group of immensely talented guys. Their careers are doing something they love. They make millions. They are famous. They are gifted. They will retire before they are 40. I say I love them, but I don’t know them.
I am talking about “my” Denver Broncos. That’s the way they have sold them to me, anyway. The stadium announcer yells over the PA system, “Here are yooooour (big pause) Denverrrrr (another pause) BRONCOOOOS!” You got that? They’re mine? … But, they possess me!
Why am I emotionally attached to a football team? Honestly, they have provided more misery and disappointment by far than the joy “our” three Super Bowl victories brought in the half century I have hemorrhaged orange blood.
This says something about the product the National Football League puts on our shelves. Unlike Colorado peaches, the end of football season leaves most fans with a bitter taste. Only one team wins it all. There are far more bruises to cut out and woody skin to bite through than delectable cobblers topped with Cool Whip.
I wonder how the NFL brainwashed me. They are a business that produces basically the same product and puts 32 different labels on it. There are small differences in quality, like some bags of gorp end up with more chocolate bits, but basically every team is a mercurial mix of continually shuffled players. As an informed and intelligent consumer, why don’t I pick the best one to enjoy each week? It’s not like I have to pay more to pull for the best? Why do we become loyal followers of the teams that cause the most heartache. The more they let us down, the more we love them.
We know there is no such thing as a real home team in pro football. It is rare that a player grew up in the town he plays in. It’s highly improbable that a player will be on one team his whole career. Credit the NFL hypnotists that create the craving to spend a $150 on a replica jersey of a star player, making us believe he is our best friend for doing so, even though we call him a “bum” for fumbling at the goal line.
We wear our jerseys on the weekend acting like we’re in the starting lineup and then switch to golf shirts with the team helmet embroidered on the breast to play coach during the week.
We are loyal to a logo, mascot, the color orange and the poor suckers sitting next to us who have bought into the madness, too. We are in essence choosing our wine by the label. We’re judging books by their covers. Broncos fans hate the Raiders with a passion, but if all our players swapped jerseys with their players at halftime so that the rosters were completely reversed, we would still go bonkers for the guys with the angry horse on their helmets during the second half. It is ridiculous.
Despite grinding my teeth behind a crooked, good sport’s smile as you gloat, I know you are not a better person than me because your team beat the Broncos last Sunday, even though I will believe that I am better than you if the Broncos prevail next time.
It kills me, literally, to think of all the greasy hot wings, chips, cheese dip and bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers I have nervously gnawed on and washed down with who knows how much beer during my storied career as the Broncos 12th man. My arteries can’t recover. Add the days my life will be shortened by this to the time I’ve wasted on the couch watching, and you begin to understand my despair.
Look at me: I am making fun of the NFL and the Broncos, because I continue to be obsessed with both, even though I fully understand that I am willingly being bamboozled. It is how I know that I am at least partially insane.
I think back to almost six years ago when the Broncos won the Super Bowl. I was overjoyed, and we celebrated as if we, ourselves, had something to do with the victory. It made up for all the heartache. The last-second losses and misery of the past made that one victory all the sweeter. But, honestly, … it didn’t feel as good as we said it did. That damnable rational person inside kept pointing out that nobody else really cared. I had to get up and go to work the next day anyway.
Roger Marolt has never painted his face for a Broncos game. He feels this preserves his self-esteem. Eroger@maroltllp.com
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