19 games. Like the Dark Tower, it all adds up to 19. In football, that magic number means you have reached the top of the mountain. All of the other 265 games don’t mean dick compared to the Super Bowl. They might as well have never happened. Through the muggy fall to the coldest winter, if you make it that far, it really means you’ve done something special. I’d been waiting 15 years to see my beloved Broncos back in the big game.
On the morning of February 2nd, I was hopped up on unnecessary energy drinks and shaking like I had Parkinson’s. I tried not to look at the clock and plied myself with meat and cheese products in a desperate attempt to induce a food coma, or at least pass a few seconds without looking at the clock again.
When 4:30 came, I mounted my battle station. I wasn’t going to leave this chair for the next four hours except to ignore the inevitably terrible Bruno Mars halftime.
Joe Namath screwed up the toss. Chuckles were had. The opening kickoff boomed, and like that, It was on. Holy shit was it on.
Then, 12 seconds into the game, the ball went flying over Peyton Manning’s head. Quite a feat considering his forehead rivals the standard size of an NBA regulation backboard.
It’s only 2 points. We can recover.
It’s only 5 points, we’ve still got this.
What the hell was that? Look at where you are throwing the damn ball!
It’s only 15 points. Against the best defense in the league. We’re okay. We spotted them a few field goals and a touchdown. We’ll get back into it. Halftime adjustments are our thing!
So. You’re down 22 points at halftime. I am not impressed.
And then, like a stake through my withered and black little heart, Percy Harvin takes the ball to the house. 29 down and 30 minutes to go.
One point per minute and we can do this? Fuck.
It was at this point, I entered the 5 phases of mourning.
Denial and Isolation
I’d been pacing for almost two hours, my comfy chair long forgotten. I didn’t have time to sit. I was trying to communicate with John Fox and give him the secret formula to get back into this game.
Most of it involved a very rapid form of the flesh eating virus applied to every defensive player. Yeah. That would teach Sherman to play so fucking well.
I then went and sat alone in the spare bedroom. In the dark. Only able to hear the game through the vents. When I heard my dad shout “Are you fucking kidding me? Again?” I entered the next phase.
Oh my sweet happy titted Zeus, did you just punt when down by 29?
Okay, this stage may not have been number two. I screamed at the TV. I wrung my hands in anger. I threatened to sacrifice my parent’s miniature dachshund to some old gods whose names have been forgotten.
I cried out in pain. I literally threw up. I was in agony. Writhing, fiery agony.
We just scored a touchdown! And it sure was a pretty catch! Maybe it is time to make the biggest Super Bowl rally in history! It’s only 4 more touchdowns in 20 minutes anyway!
Okay, I’m not proud of this, but I might have actually prayed. I may have called on some mystical force in the universe to make this happen. This was the first time in many years I can recall doing this. I even claimed I would attend at least one church service if it happened.
Touchdown Seahawks! This touchdown was then followed by Troy Aikman trying to make the game exciting through commentary of a blow out.
Highlights of our 1988 horrifying loss to the 49ers started playing on the screen. People in the northwest were surely lighting victory blunts as I lay on the floor, clutching the Broncos helmet I’ve worn during games for the better part of 17 years. I’m going to say those were man tears, but that is probably just a holdover from step 1.
Before I could see Pete Carrol hoist the trophy, I promptly shut the TV off. I sat there, a stunned family decked out in so much orange and blue that it looked like the last sunset of a nuclear holocaust. It was over. Done. Kaput. No amount of telepathic power, time machines, Gods, or pleas to the universe could change it.
We had lost, and in a fashion that will be remembered in highlight reels for ages. Next year we will have to hear commentators talk about the bitter disappointment of that awful New York night, but for now, the season is dead and gone. I plan to diligently avoid sports sites for the coming month or two, fearing the sudden flashbacks. Green and blue demons will surely haunt my dreams in the months to come, but I survived. See you all on draft day. Prepare your bodies for the real Broncos next year.