January 12th, 2013:
It’s 13° and my beard has formed icicles, but the Denver Broncos are on the cusp of heading to the AFC Championship game (a game to be played back at Mile High) and even in the frigid cold my blood is pumping and I am as warm as ever. Then IT happens! The “Flacco Fling!” One throw, 70 yards down the sideline. It was one of those passes that would take a Tebow sized miracle to complete. Jacoby Jones makes the catch and just like that the cold had me in its grasp. My heart sank and life was sucked from me in one “miraculous” moment. I sank into my seat, my cold hands clasped together, and I knew the game was over. Two overtimes later I would be proven right as Justin Tucker kicked a field goal to give Baltimore the win. And as we all know the Ravens go on to win the Superbowl. And just like that, it was over for the Broncos.
I was heartbroken. I was angry. It felt like I got dumped at the Prom. I left the stadium with a sick sinking feeling and sulked my way to the car. I sat in complete silence the entire ride home. I was in mourning. It was a week before I could bring myself to listen to any sports radio, or read any commentary on the game.
A week later I began to process things and realized that the Broncos have been here before. It was January 4th, 1997 they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-27. Did that team sit and sulk? No, of course not. That team used it as motivation to win back to back Super Bowls and cement John Elway’s legacy as one of the best QB’s to ever play the game. The leader of that team and the architect of this team has been there and with that I knew things would be different next year.
Lets fast forward two months almost to the day of that playoff loss and the Broncos confirmed my suspicions of things being different by signing (now former) Patriot Wes Welker. The five time pro bowler was now a Denver Bronco and the same shades of tickle-me-pink when we signed Peyton Manning (or more favorably known PFM) came over me and hey if I can stick a middle finger up at the Patriots I am all for it. So here’s Welker going from one of the greatest QB’s of all time in Tom Brady, to another in PFM. With injury concerns and a less than stellar defense luring away Brady’s favorite target outside of the oft injured Gronkowski made the Broncos at that very moment the front runner as the AFC representative at the Superbowl. Combined with the signing of Shaun Phillips and the drafting of Montee Ball and Sylvester Williams, the Broncos are poised to return to greatness. Oh what a Glorious day! As OTA’s and minicamps start there is a buzz in Broncos Country. An anticipation, excitement and an eagerness for redemption. Yes, HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL.
– Chris Hitchcock
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