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Feeling Kinda Blue (and Orange)

Analyzing the post-game psyche.

Is What's So Funny really going to write about the Denver Broncos again? Doesn't that little fancy-pantsed dandelion remember the outpouring of heinous, misspelled hate mail sent by the slack-jawed "Superfans" the last time he set pen to paper on the Donkeys? Is he really mimicking the disbelieving voice of an incredulous reader right now and asking questions about himself in his own column?

Yes. Yes, he is.

Never mind that the game was nearly a week ago. Never mind that the frenzy swirling about the Denver team has been sucked down the drain like a clot of greasy black hair. Never mind this pile of bills, my debilitating gout and the feral badger that has taken up residence in my kitchen. (I swear to God, if you go in there when he's eating, he'll rip a pear-sized chunk of flesh right out of your thigh.) There will be plenty of time for all that later; now is the time for mourning. Hold me, dear readers, and I will hold you back.

It's tough being a Broncos fan.

The day of the AFC championship, What's So Funny awoke heroically before 10 a.m., strapped on my orange-and-blue finest, and hit the town to gauge the pulse of the city. It was electric. People on the street rocked Broncos jerseys ranging from Atwater to Anderson, smiling cooperatively at one another, their silent head nods speaking volumes. In a coffee shop on Larimer Street, old men in tasteful team sweatshirts amiably swapped sports sections while overhead, football banners flapped in the breeze. In City Park, near the pavilion, a man from Palestine, his skin dyed completely blue, bear-hugged a man from Israel, his skin dyed completely orange, and the two walked hand in hand toward the horizon as "Up Where We Belong" blasted in the background. (That last one is complete and total hearsay, but I'll be goddamned if I'm going to let that Penny Parker beat me to another scoop.) The point is, there was a buzz in the air that was palpable that day, a silent tension worn on the face of nearly every one I saw.

And then, in the blink of an eye, it all disappeared. Broncos jerseys were resentfully tossed aside. The old men at the coffee shop started arguing about who was the funniest Marx brother and wound up bludgeoning one another in the street with shoehorns. And man, you don't even want to know about the Israel/Palestine guys. Let's just leave it at 15 dead, 37 injured.

In my neighborhood, people spilled out of their houses to try to enjoy what was left of the sunlight, all of them in a daze from the 34-17 thrashing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. My friends and I silently tossed a football back and forth on the front lawn, commenting on anything and everything but the game we had just witnessed. It felt awful, but it also felt familiar.

This is exactly what we did in 1990, after a Super Bowl loss to the San Francisco 49ers so permanently scarring that to this day when somebody says "55," I can't help but involuntarily ejaculate "10!" That's right, involuntarily ejaculate. This is exactly what we did after losing to the Giants in Super Bowl XXI, and exactly what we did again the next year, when we lost to the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII. It feels shitty to lose, and the sting doesn't disappear even when the team takes the field the next season -- but it helps to remember that loss plays just as much of a role in Denver Broncos history as victory. Hell, probably more of a role.

Still, I remained in an irreversible funk the Monday after the game. So I headed over to the Sports Castle to see if I could score some choice, heavily discounted Broncos paraphernalia. It was slim pickings. The section of Broncos gear, now 30 percent off, had been moved toward the back of the first floor, and the selection was threadbare. There were a few Broncos BBQ and Tailgating accoutrement packages, and two XL Jake the Snake sweatshirts, and that was pretty much it. The man at the register said they'd been absolutely bombarded over the past week and predicted a slew of returns soon from the bandwagon-jumpers.

But I couldn't just sit around waiting for some hand-me-down sweatshirt from a quasi-fan to cheer me up. So I headed up to the fourth floor and picked up a pair of the new Melo 5.5's. They did nothing to help my Bronco pangs, but I'm pretty sure I can dunk now.

 
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