This morning's Denver Post had just one word for Peyton Manning's peerless performance in Sunday's AFC championship victory over the New England Patriots: SUPERB! Actually, the paper's worshipful scribes had lots of words about the game and the Broncos QB, but SUPERB! just about summed it up. It's a slightly more urbane variation on SUPER!, the headline preferred by the late Rocky Mountain News whenever the team was Super Bowl bound, or the Post's own DAWGGONE SUPER!, a classic of the 1987 season.
Brace yourself for two weeks of inane hype, shameless boosterism, threadbare cliches and recycled story lines. The Broncos haven't been in a Super Bowl for fifteen years, and that means every TV and radio station, newspaper and sports blog in these parts will be spouting orange gush around the clock.
True, there are fewer media resources out there now than during the Elway years, and the surviving local outlets (sorry, Rocky) are stretched pretty thin. The Denver media won't be sending 125 people to cover the big game, as they did in 1987, or pay somebody like Leon Uris $10,000 to write about what it means to be a Broncos fan, as the Post once did. But that doesn't mean we won't get buried in drivel just the same. To recycle an observation from my own retrospective of embarrassingly bad Super Bowl hype in these parts, published during the late 1990s frenzy over Super Bowl XXXII: "Every time the Broncos have marched into post-season play, the team has been mobbed by a horde of fawning, cheerleading, jock-sniffing, rabble-rousing Broncomaniacs -- and that's just the local media. The fans, of course, get really excited."
Of course, there's plenty to get excited about. This team has an offense that can score bushels of points in seconds or make one drive last half a quarter; that the defense has more holes than a cheese grater doesn't seem to matter when you have firepower like that. But even that story doesn't satisfy the hype machine's boundless appetite. So expect a flood of reports about wacky fans and their wacky rituals, solemn ponderings on why this is the most important sports event EVER, inspiring tales of workaday joes overcoming vast obstacles to attend the game, and blusterings from the mayors of Denver and Seattle wagering fine local products -- probably THC-laced edibles -- on the outcome of the game.
We've already endured the oppressive Post accounts of how there was some kind of "cloud" on Manning's legacy that could only be exorcised by thumping San Diego in the divisional round. (WHEW! ran the next day's headline, suggesting a crisis of confidence on the sports desk that the team didn't share.) Then the done-to-death but still obligatory Manning vs. Brady stories. Now that the Seahawks are next on the menu, look for the predictable yet inescapable wily-veteran-versus-brash-youngster QB comparisons, the pocket passer and the headstrong scrambler, etc.
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Look for Mark Kiszla, who once described John Elway's long-departed "Grandpa Harry" looking down on him from heaven as if in an episode of "Family Circus," to get all weepy over the question of how many more years Manning has left. Look for Woody Paige to scrounge up some alliterative insults for people who live in Seattle and...yes...drink coffee. Look for endless weather reports from New Jersey and one wide-eyed TV personality after another asking bored and impatient players how they're handling the pressure. Look for some dire reflections on how the Mile High City's destiny depends on a Super Bowl victory.
Just like it did last year.
More from our Sports archive: "See photos of the moment Tom Brady realized Peyton Manning just beat his ass."