Tomorrow is the Super Bowl. And I’m cheering for the Denver Broncos.
When it comes to cheering for any sports team, there are three rules every fan should follow. You can’t cheer for any team anywhere unless you:
1. Know someone personally who plays for that team
2. Have a personal connection to the city that team represents — you were born there, went to school etc., or
3) Have physically visited the city, stadium or arena at least once.
If your favourite team doesn’t fit into these rules, I can’t understand why you might cheer for them. The jerseys are awesome?!
They used to represent another city!? (I still know people who cheer for the Phoenix Coyotes because they’re the old Jets. Huh? Uh, the Jets are back, just in case you missed the memo.)
Others love a team because an uncle or dad did. No connection to the city, the players or anything, but they cheer, pay money for premium cable and dish out big cash for merchandise. I just don’t get it. This is why I am not and will never be a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays. I’m a Twins fan. I know the Jays are Canadian, but it’s three days away, I don’t have any connection to that city and I don’t know anyone personally who has ever played for the team. As for "they’re Canadian," I have more in common with someone who lives in Minnesota than someone who lives in southern Ontario.
Mr. Minnesota and I both curse the bone-chilling cold as we break off our Popsicle-stick extension cord from the front of our cars buried in 50 feet of snow in a pitch black winter. All this while someone in Toronto complains because its going to dip below freezing tonight and their petunias might get a nip of frost. But I digress. It’s not all about geography. I know of someone in Westman who has season tickets to the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL. Now that is a drive. And that my friends, is a fan with dedication. You pass the test, Mr. Chiefs fan.
The Vikings are my team. I’ve seen them play twice. Once I wrote about two weeks ago, and the other was a training camp our family attended in Mankato a few years back. Before that summer vacation, when our daughter was just two, we packed up the ’94 Caravan for a road trip to Denver.
Summer of 2005 we loaded up the kids for three days on the road that would make Clark Griswold proud.
The goal: Six Flags AND Denver Broncos training camp before the start of the 2005-06 football season. Three days on the road is a road trip we have yet to duplicate, even to this day. It was a big one. And although you can get to Denver in two solid 12-hour driving days, since the kids were small, we broke it up for them. Our thoughtfulness did not subdue the screams of "she touched me" followed by "I have to pee" and "are we there yet?"
After three hardcore travel days we finally we arrived in Denver — a very pretty city that looks a lot like Calgary. Upon arriving, I felt it necessary to buy some Broncos football gear for the training camp I was going to attend the following day. No GPS or smartphone in 2005, we did it the old-fashioned way, with a map. This meant getting lost in a rather large city.
Three hours later we found the sports store and bought our fan costumes. Then it was strict orders for an early bed time. Dad was going to get the family up early and we were off to the Broncos training facility in Englewood, on the outskirts of the city.
The following day, we once again got lost, only this time it was in morning rush hour traffic. I remember thinking "we are so late for the start of the final day of training camp, we’re NEVER gonna get a parking spot." Frustrated and angry, Tracy calmed me down enough to help me finally get onto a road with the exit sign for Englewood, followed by signs directing us to the training centre. WE WERE HERE! Three days drive, countless fights in the car, lost twice, and now it was time for some football.
As I turned the corner, I remember seeing the facility and thinking "this can’t be the place. I can park anywhere I want". In fact nobody is here, but maybe two dozen cars.
"Does this town not love football?" I thought. "Where is everybody?"
Well, if you’ve seen Chevy Chase in the first Vacation movie, you know what happens next. Into the Denver Broncos front office I go, where staff greet me.
"Can I help you?" she said in a friendly, helpful tone.
"Yeah, we just drove three days form Canada to see the Broncos on the last day of training camp. Where is everybody?"
I’ll never forget the look on her face. Her smile was gone. Her face turned to shock and sadness.
"Uh, first game of exhibition is Sunday against Houston. Uh… humidity down there is really bad this week, so coach thought it best to go early and get a couple days practice in Houston to get the team ready, I’m so sorry."
Wow. Three days. Now I knew how Clark felt when Wallyword was closed. But nevertheless, to relieve the guilt she was feeling, and to help me out after a long drive, she offered to let us hang out with injured players working out in the weight centre. She even let me run around on the practice field and take pictures. But in the end, our Broncos experience planned for the day turned into a 10-minute tour, a few pictures, and me goofing around on the turf where players usually work.
I love the saying "may today’s disaster, be tomorrow’s story that makes you laugh."
This was one of those. It didn’t ruin our trip. In fact it made it even more memorable.
Funny how when you’re kids grow up, you’d give almost anything to have those three days in the van back. And so goes life. Ah Denver.
Enjoy the game tomorrow and GO BRONCOS!
JOKE THIS WEEK
Tom Brady died tragically one day. When he got to heaven St. Peter showed him his house, a good-sized place with Patriots flags and colours. Then Tom saw another house. An enourmous mansion, had an orange garage, blue windows, a Broncos flag flying in the front yard, it looked like it had about 50 rooms. Tom was upset so he asked God, "God, I have won several championships, MVP's, lead my team to many fourth-quarter comebacks. I’m not trying to be ungrateful, but why is Peyton Manning’s house so much bigger and better then mine? He has just one championship win." God turned and looked at the house, turned back to Tom and said, "That’s not Peyton’s house, that’s mine."
Darryl Lee Hunter
Pam Freund Stemmer