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Denver Goes Orange

Why the Broncos' success is richly deserved.

I write this with the slightly surreal view out of my window of a portion of an estimated one million Denver Broncos fans turning 17th Street, Broadway & Civic Center Park into a sea of orange for the victory parade.  Our hometown (American) football team has delivered the goods & now takes the Rapids’ crown as the most recent Major League team to bring a Championship to Colorado.  No matter what you think of what this country calls ‘football’, it is hard not to feel a bit of local pride for Denver on this occasion.

The best thing about this victory is that it has gone to a team that seriously laid out its recent ambitions to win the Super Bowl back in 2012 with the acquisition of quarterback Peyton Manning on a 5 year, $96 million contract.  The Broncos wanted the best that they could find & were prepared to pay the money for it.  Admittedly it was a risk, with many commentators claiming that Manning would be done after one bad hit but it was one that the upsides were thought to outweigh the downsides & as a consequence, a risk worth taking.

Probably the biggest reason why the Broncos have a culture that puts on-field success at the heart of what they do is down to their legendary owner, Pat Bowlen.  Stories of abound of Pat going to training nearly every day for 25 years, taking a big role in NFL ownership discussions & generally being ‘hands on’ are in plentiful supply.  Sadly reports began in 2009 that Mr. Bowlen was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease & since then he has subsequently stepped away from all team operations & out of the public eye.  Sadly he was not well enough to even make the trip to Santa Clara to see his team’s latest triumph which was overseen by legendary quarterback John Elway alongside team president Joe Ellis.  Together Elway & Ellis have presided over two coaching changes before settling on Gary Kubiak at the beginning of the season.  The team nearly achieved its aims in 2014 only to be ripped apart by Seattle’s incredible defense and not at all bad offense.  The response since has been almost perfect – rebuild the defense so that it can handle the level of the anticipated opponent in the big game while sticking with what worked that season, in this case, Peyton & the offense.

It should be noted that not everything the Broncos do turns to gold.  Back in 2010, the team had lost their way a bit & they went to that year's draft to get one of the most highly rated college quarterbacks for years in Tim Tebow.  Two seasons later & with Tebow’s shortcomings apparent, the organization knew it had to make changes if it was to be successful, which scraping past the Steelers before being trounced by the Patriots in the play-offs was not.  Sadly it didn’t work out for Tim in Denver & despite spending time with the New York Jets, the New England Patriots & the Philadelphia Eagles, he is currently out of the game.

Going into the off-season, the Broncos have a huge decision on what to do about Peyton Manning.  If he retires, they will no doubt be figuring out who the permanent long-term replacement, be it Brock Osweiler or whoever.  If they do agree a new contract for Peyton to stay on, the decision on whether to start him in every game is also an interesting conundrum.  That said, Broncos fans will have confidence in that the team’s management will make a competent decision on what the best way forward is.

The Broncos are the only Major League team in Colorado to be run like this, with success in recent times at the Rapids, Rockies, Nuggets & Avalanche either being either non-existent or of a fleeting nature after a single ‘hot’ season.  Hopefully the owners of these teams will see what downtown Denver looks like today & how good it feels.  Perhaps they will even be inspired to emulate the ‘orange crush’ and help get Colorado on the sporting map for more than just (American) football.  For Colorado sports fans that are not orange, that would be something huge to celebrate.