The New York Giants’ victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI (my prediction was eerily close) closed the book on a gripping NFL season—just as this column will close the book on my tenure as a writer for the The A.V. Club in Denver. That’s right, I’m moving on. In the three-plus years I’ve spent writing Jock Itch for the The A.V. Club in Denver, we’ve never seen a championship for the big four teams, but we have seen plenty of memorable moments. Together we saw the end of the Mike Shanahan era and the rise and fall of the Josh McDaniels debacle. We witnessed Tim Tebow’s ascension, Carmelo Anthony’s departure, and Jay Cutler’s hissy fit. I’d like to think I’ve hit a couple of home runs and finished off a few game-winning drives in that time as well. Okay, maybe it was more like some singles and a couple of field goals—but, with that, I can comfortably hang up my, er, writing cleats, as I move on from my duties as writer for this fine website. Before I end my time crafting clever, pop culture-tinged missives about Denver sports, let’s take a final look at how our home teams have fared.
The last two seasons under Shanahan were frustrating for all of us, and they eventually led to his surprising dismissal. The hottest question as the Broncos sputtered to a 1-4 start this season was whether the team would have been better off if Shanny had never been fired. It’s very possible the Broncos wouldn’t have abdicated the title of perennial AFC West champ if Shanahan had managed to stick around. Instead, the Broncos were dismantled by McDaniels and are lucky to be in the position they are in now. At the very least, I can see the Broncos returning to being consistently in contention for the AFC West crown. If they can add the right personnel, they may go even farther than they did this season. As always, Tebow abides.
The Nuggets have been a playoff mainstay since Carmelo Anthony came to town. Even after he left, with middle finger raised, it’s nice to know that the winning will continue. If you can remember the lean years—Victoria’s Secret model lean—when the Nuggets were such a joke they actually were a joke on The Simpsons (“No blame Frankenstein, me made from corpses of Denver Nuggets”), you’ll know that having a contending NBA team is good for the soul of the city. The Nuggets will continue to thrive but, until a definite go-to scorer emerges, they will always be on the outside looking in—but looking good, because Gallinari means “hot dude” in Italian.
We were just a year removed from Rocktober when I started this column, and hopes were high for the Rockies to continue on a long stretch of playoff appearances. Unfortunately they only made one trip back to the postseason since that fabled World Series run, and last season was an utter failure, even by Rick Perry’s standards. The team does have a great core of players, and the management has the appearance of knowing what its doing, but the problem is and always will be the pitching. The Rox will score all the runs in the world, but that won’t matter when the pitching staff gives up just one more. The Rockies will flirt with greatness, but greatness won’t ask them out on a second date (let alone the big dance) until the pitching solidifies.
The Avs have been to the playoffs once during my time with The A.V. Club, and that playoff run was short lived, falling to the San Jose Sharks in six games after winning a spectacular OT game at home. And because of that, they seem like the forgotten team in all of this: feeling the economic pinch of fan support more than any with its lack of postseason oomph. There are some great young players on the team, but there are also some huge gaps in the talent level from the rest of the NHL. This makes it seem like Avs management lacks the interest or ability to really build a team. Unless the players who are currently on the squad take a huge leap forward in becoming elite, I can only think the Avs will float right where they’re at: struggling to stay in the middle, and always at risk of sinking to the bottom.
As for myself, I hope I’ve left the rich Denver sports-blogging scene better off than when I started. I learned a great deal under the tutelage of the awesome staff of The A.V. Club here in Denver, who pretty much let me do what I wanted. I will continue to write over at my other gig, South Stands Denver, where we have a companion podcast that I hear is wildly popular. Thanks for reading and farewell, sports fans. May we celebrate a championship—any championship—together soon.
John Reidy is moving on, but Jock Itch will return under new stewardship in the near future.