“Who will win the Tooth Trot at Coors Field is just as important to us Sports Atheists as who wins the AFC West. Regardless, I’m being called back into action like a weary commando in a Stallone movie.”
So a deadline has been set. I am being commanded by Broncos fans to return to the fold before tonight’s pre-season clash between YOUR Denver Broncos and the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. I’m being told to drink a ladle of the orange kissing potion, make up and get back in line. Or what? I’m not really sure. But that’s the funny thing about fandom, it rarely makes any sense.
I’ve ventured far from Broncos Country since that fateful day in February and I’ve enjoyed my time away. After the humiliation in Super Bowl XLVIII and the subsequent nonchalant way the players (and fans) acted like it was a preseason loss, I sailed off through night and day, and in and out of weeks, and almost over a year, away from where the wild Broncos fans are.
But now I’m being called back. A clarion has sounded across the land, echoing to the darkest reaches of the sports world. Coaxing at first, now commanding me: It’s time. Come back to Broncos Country.
But do I really want to come back?
What is there for me in Broncos Country? More dizzying, record-setting highs? Sure. More heartbreak? Assuredly. Maybe I’m just content to watch from afar: happy for my former team, but never really diving back in and swimming to the dark depths of fandom like before. Maybe I was so embarrassed and let down by the Super Bowl that I can’t associate my personal brand with such failure anymore. And if I’m supposed to write and talk about sports, how can I let the Denver Broncos cloud my judgment?
It could be that I’ve been writing and talking about the Broncos for so long, I’ve finally become the dreaded “Sports Atheist”. One who simply watches sports for the athletic competition, and not to root for any one team. “I root for the story or a player, not the team,” sports atheists and a lot of sports columnists will say. Both have removed emotion from the sports equation and have boiled down their love of football to whoever puts on the best show. Who will win the Tooth Trot at Coors Field is just as important to us Sports Atheists as who wins the AFC West. Regardless, I’m being called back into action like a weary commando in a Stallone movie. “Just one more score Reidy, and then you can retire,” they say. Many have assumed I would answer the call and ride my stallion back into Broncos Country in a blaze of glory. But after a long offseason to think about it, I may just sit this one out.
I don’t like being told I can’t be disgusted with my team. And when I’m badgered and berated into worshipping the Denver Broncos again, it’s like I’m standing at the edge of a huge cliff, with a multi-colored, 1970’s hang glider at that ready. Behind me are the fans, who in the personification of “misery loves company,” are beckoning me back, roaring their terrible roars and gnashing their terrible teeth. In front of me are blue (no orange) skies and freedom from disappointment. I pull the hang glider over my shoulders and step off the cliff. I’m free.