If You Cut Me, Do I Not Bleed Orange and Blue

Slide show Used to be a time that Broncos Training Camp. meant one thing and one thing only: Greeley, Colorado. You see, these Broncos now-a-days, they’re soft, I tells ya. They cozily meander from their McMansions in Cherry Hills or whatever neighboring suburb in which they’ve set up shop and take the short ride to the Dove Valley training facility on Arapahoe Road. But those older Broncos squads, they had to make the hour-or-so trek to the manure-scented shitropolis of Greeley, where they shacked up in the bunk-beds of the University of Northern Colorado dorms like a bunch of college kids, away from the frills of their cushy mansions, and simply got down to business. The altitude, sure that helps, but conventional Bronco-wisdom used to hold that the shittier a town smelled, the better it was for training.

“Ah, you feeling tired? Well how about you get down and give me sixty pushups? Tired don’t win Super Bowls! Now breath deep, sucka! Don’t like that shitty smell, do you? Of course you don’t! Nobody does! But there ain’t one other team in the NFL that trains in these harsh of conditions, now breathe! Breathe!”

Seriously, look it up on the Broncos website, you’ll find that exact conversation somewhere I’m sure of it.

With this same sort of training ethos in mind, I myself traveled to Greeley in August for several summers in a row, to attend the No. 1 Striker and Goalie Camp, an insane, week-long soccer clinic held at UNC that promised each child would get, “1000 touches on the ball before breakfast!” Why this was an impressive enticement to parents, I’ll never be sure, but it meant that legions of soccer players were up at the crack of dawn to soak their cleats in dew as they dribbled aimlessly across a darkened field. Then we were fed.

One year, I remember, our camp coincided with that of the Broncos. You can imagine the sense of excitement buzzing through the soccer camp when it was realized that the Denver Broncos were sharing the same dorms that we were. We never saw them up close and personal, of course; they were quarantined in their bubble of super-stardom and our schedule was dictated around theirs. If the Broncos were in the cafeteria, we were nowhere near it. If the Broncos were playing on some of the fields we were supposed to use, we forfeited the right and watched soccer videos. But they couldn’t plan everything perfectly. One day, the camp had reserved the UNC pool for us and we little soccer players joyfully trekked to the facility in our swimsuits, ready for a respite from the heat. I can vividly recall crashing down a hallway only to find that the DENVER FUCKING BRONCOS were already in the pool.

Somebody had fucked up the schedule, and there, before our thirteen-year-old eyes were the fucking Donkeys, in all their muscular glory. Broncos staffers and our camp counselors quickly went into you-guys-are-lepers-don’t-infect-these-professional-athletes mode, scurrying to prevent any sort of interaction, but there was no controlling all of us. Many children leapt into the pool despite shouts not to, giddily swimming as fast as they could towards their favorite Bronco. I’ll never forget Shannon Sharpe scrambling out of the pool as though someone had just shit in it.

After ten minutes or so, order was restored and the Broncos were allowed to resume swimming. For our part, we never saw the pool again that week, nor any members of the Denver Broncos for that matter. But to us it didn’t matter. Soccer didn’t matter then either. All anyone could talk about was coming so close to our beloved Denver Broncos, bumping shoulders and pool-water with men we considered to be gods.

Greeley didn’t smell so shitty that day.

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Sean Cronin