While the Denver Broncos are busy figuring out who to select from the second pick of the draft, at least a few of their fans are picking up the slack and trying to bring home a trophy. The guys who designed the Broncos Bus, a former school bus that's painted bright orange and blue (obviously) and owned by fourteen Broncomaniacs, will be competing in the Bing National Tailgating Championship today in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Broncos Bus won the Denver regional tailgating championship, which took place at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 14, and now, deep in the heart of Texas, they're taking on five other spirited teams representing the Saints, Seahawks, Cardinals, Jets and the hometown Texans. "This is the first time the bus has left the state of Colorado, so we're pretty excited about it," says Tom Harrington, one of the bus owners.
The tailgaters will be judged on four criteria: cuisine, spirit, Super Bowl trivia and tailgating skills -- defined as bean bag tossing and throwing footballs through tires. If victorious, the Broncos Bus will receive the title of National Tailgating Champion, a golden grill trophy and an undetermined cash prize.
Harrington says the bus will be serving its usual grub: burgers made from ingredients donated by the Cherry Cricket, cold beer and other odds and ends. "It's all food that can be ingested with one hand, because ideally you want a beverage in the other hand while you're tailgating," deadpans Harrington.
The team also incorporates products from former players whenever possible, such as lamb from Elway's, Ed McCaffrey's mustard and Terrell Davis's barbecue sauce.
The Broncos Bus came to fruition eight years ago when a group of longtime friends bought the rundown bus, decorated it and parked it on the south side of the stadium. The group now feeds hundreds of fans at tailgating parties each week during football season. Some give money to eat and imbibe, and the bus owners donate that money to local charities. The owners donated $4,500 to charity this season and any money made from today's championship will go to Colorado Uplift, a non-profit that establishes long-term relationships with urban youth and teaches them character and life skills.
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Harrington is keeping a few secrets sacred about how the team plans to bring home the golden grill. "We've got a couple things up our sleeves, but nothing we can mention now," he says. "We're going up against some stiff competition."