For a small market located in a flyover state, Denver and its football fans have made a big name for themselves since the Denver Broncos team was born in 1960. From the fans who stormed the field on New Year's Day in 1978 to tear down the goal posts after the team went to its first Super Bowl, to those who have sold out the stadium 43 years in a row, to the ones who are making the long, cold, expensive trek to New York next week for Denver's seventh appearance in the big game, Bronco maniacs rival fans in any state.
And as the team heads toward its February 2 date with the Seattle Seahawks, football fanatics are coming out of the woodwork. You'll see them all — from those who honestly bleed orange and blue to those who are just pretending. Here's our rundown (illustrated by Noah Van Sciver) of the twelve most common types of Broncos fans.
The Hater The Hater puts himself out there as a huge Broncos fan, but he can't stop talking about how badly the team is going to do this Sunday — and every Sunday. He never gets tired of pointing out how the front office messed up the draft, how the coaches blew up the play-calling, how the Broncos have NO running game, no passing game, no defense and no special teams. In fact, the Hater is so down on the Broncos that you wonder why he even bothers.
The Optimist The Optimist always buys the latest jersey and newest hat, and he won't tolerate any talk about the chance that the Broncos could possibly lose this game — or any other game. Ever. To even mention team weaknesses or problems is sacrilege. Criticize the team, and the Optimist will shoot you down — because if you harbor even the slightest doubt about the Broncos, then you're just not a real fan.
The Secret Fan This fan pretends not to like football because he hangs with hipsters or intellectuals who don't appreciate the sport's "ritualized reenactment of violence" and "patriarchal male domination," but you'll still find the Secret Fan catching a glimpse, or two or three, of the game on the tiny TV in the trendy coffee shop or dive bar where he's sipping a beverage. And that's not Instagram he's checking on his smartphone — it's the score. He might even be wearing Broncos underwear.
The Conflicted Fan Born in a different state, the Conflicted Fan loves Colorado and thus the Broncos, so she dutifully wears a Broncos jersey. But she also has an allegiance to her home town and the friends and family who are still there, so she wears that team's hat, or maybe that team's T-shirt under her Broncos jersey. Of course, this just ends up making everyone mad at her.
The Overachiever The Overachiever takes leave of his senses when the Broncos make the playoffs, deciding — against the wishes of his wife, his neighbors and everyone else — to paint his house or his car orange, to get a tattoo of the team logo, and to name his kids Peyton and Demaryius. The Overachiever claims to have no regrets. But little Demaryius might.
The Tebow Enthusiast This fan appreciates Peyton Manning for his amazing abilities, but still feels like the Broncos would be just as good with Timmy at the top. A rare breed now that Manning has shown his worth, the Tebow Enthusiast steadfastly wears her Number 15 Tebow jersey every Sunday and simply shrugs her shoulders and flashes a sheepish grin when people ask why.
The Sunday Funday Fan Usually wearing a Von Miller jersey, the Sunday Funday Fan only knows the names of four or five players, but he sure knows how to party. In fact, this fan tailgates so hard every week that he either passes out or gets escorted to detox before halftime.
The Curmudgeon It's impossible to know if the Curmudgeon is actually curmudgeonly, but he sure looks it with those giant AM/FM radio headphones over his ears. Typically coming in at sixty-plus, this grumpy character can't be bothered to listen to you, the stadium announcer or anyone else, because he's got the game, or local sports-talk jocks, tuned in at all times. Dressed in an orange satin jacket with the old-school logo, you'll find him at the stadium on game day and walking around the park at all other times.
The Superfan With an orange Mohawk or a fake helmet on his head, face paint, and a giant blue D scrawled across his bare chest, the Superfan took about three hours to get ready for the game. Custom-made orange sneakers? Check. Logo-adorned socks, watch, sunglasses and wallet? Check. When he's interviewed by the local media, the Superfan likes to mimic what players say, things like: "I'm a monster when I'm in the zone, but off the field, I'm really a nice, mellow, gentle guy."
The Milfy Mom She's a soccer mom in the spring, but come fall, the Milfy Mom dons her pink Eric Decker jersey and starts screaming, embarrassing her children, her significant other and everyone else around her. Often seen hosting football-watching parties and at kid-friendly bars, the Milfy Mom has matching pink Broncos socks and cute little helmet stickers on her cheeks.
The Nattering Native This fan never lets you forget that he was born in Denver and has been watching the Broncos since the Morton-to-Moses connection — or the Dennis Smith days. He wears a Randy Gradishar or Steve Atwater jersey, signifying that he has been a fan since way before you even heard of the Broncos...or were even born, for that matter. He collected Broncos gear as a kid, but sold it at a garage sale in the early '80s and then bought a bunch of it back on eBay. The Nattering Native bemoans the loss of the South Stands at the old Mile High and won't acknowledge the "new logo."
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The Bandwagon Bro With his too-tight, too-thin Broncos T-shirt stretched over his biceps and a pair of skinny jeans below, the Bandwagon Bro is more interested in looking good than in rooting for the team. He'd wear the Broncos trucker hat that his girlfriend bought him, but it would mess up his hair. Bandwagon Bro washes that T-shirt in cold water and irons it.