Living in Denver, you can’t escape being shrouded in “orange and blue”. It’s literally in the water out here, in the sunrise and sunsets, in the early hints of fall as the leaves start to change and the temperature begins to drop. You drive as far east as Kansas & Missouri before you run into the “hated” Chiefs, and then head southwest some 913 miles before finding the Phoenix Cardinals. The Denver Broncos dominate the Rocky Mountains; north & south up I-25, east & west across I-70.
Fans are as “passionate and diehard” as you’ll find in the NFL. Many have grown up in the region, weaned on “Orange Crush” and the “Mile HighSalute”. Transplants jumped on the “bandwagon” in the glory years of the mid 90’s and adopted the “horse head” as their own. They’re a vocal and noisy group, both in and out of Sports Authority Field. They’ll wait some 45 minutes to express 2 minutes of opinion on SportsTalk radio, or write a 5 page dissertation in the Comments section of the Denver Post.
Fanatically loyal? No doubt. Obsessively spoiled? Without question. This group has taken success for granted almost twenty-five years. Much of it built around a “yellow jacketed” QB, two “iron-fisted dictators” and five Super Bowl appearances. Double digit wins and annual playoff trips don’t get it done on the “front range”. This town demands perfection; by its fans, by its media and from itself.
I lived it for over sixteen years and have not seen Bronco fans as “anxious and agitated” as they’ve been the past few months. It started with the 25th pick of the 1st round in the 2010 draft – QB TIM TEBOW, FLUN.
It’s all the rage
I’ve done my best to separate from the Bronco organization since leaving in the spring of ’08. “Ugly breakups” can do that. But this TEBOW issue seems to be pulling me back into a “predominantly orange” cloud. People demand to know, “Why isn’t TEBOW our QB? Why isn’t he the starter? What are they thinking in Dove Valley? Play him or trade him! Why spend a first round pick on a backup?” Local radio interviews, national publication requests, twitter inquiries and television talk shows. I didn’t even draft the guy.
TEBOW’s popularity stems from a personality that fits what this town wants from its next“quarterback hero”; competitive, tough, smart, grounded, a winner. They see themselves in #15 and willingly pay $135 dollars for his Bronco jersey to prove it. Yep, the Denver Broncos are caught between a “belly and barrel”. EFX (Elway, Fox, Xanders) have to feel like the court of King Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Only in this case it’s the fans and not the masses carrying the torches.
Just answer the question
I’m asked time and again, “What would you do if you were General Manager, in charge of football player personnel?”, and this is how I answer;
EFX is tasked with both winning now and building a foundation for winning in the future. Because of never before seen “futility” last season, there is heavy internal/external pressure to show immediate progress. But EFX can’t succumb.
Fans and media tend to forget we “don’t see what is seen” inside the walls of Dove Valley. We don’t watch a complete practice, record the passing efficiency, review the resulting tape over and over again. We’re not privy to the answers in the classroom, the demeanor up and down the halls of the facility. We don’t know the “locker room” reaction; what they perceive, who they support. We’re not aware of game plan “understanding”, the ability to “check off” at the line.
It’s my assumption that because of short term demands and long term goals, EFX is doing what they feel is the best solution to achieve the former, while still assessing the latter. That is to say TIM TEBOW would be the starting QB if he gave them the best chance to win “now”. Until there is enough confidence he provides them with that opportunity, EFX owes it to the other 52 to play the quarterback that does.
NFL players are too smart to try and pull something over on them. I saw it happen when Jay Cutler was given Jake Plummer’s team before he’d earned it. This was the “beginning of the end” for Shanahan and he too was shown the “guillotine”.
So EFX walks a “tight rope” of patience and hopes they can hold off the masses from storming the “walls of Dove Valley”. Viva la Denver Broncos!