Having attending my first Broncos game in 2001, I never got to experience the Elway era in person. I’ve heard stories of the fabled “Mile High Magic” and for the better part of the last decade, I’ve faithfully gone to the home games in hopes to experience the magic first-hand. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve witnessed greatness at Mile High (the 2005 New England Patriots playoff game comes to mind) – where I’ve tasted the magic.
To me the Mile High Magic is that euphoric feeling at the stadium when you tell yourself “Sure we’re down, but we’ve got this. We’ve got …” I’ve seen some pretty incredible wins at the new Mile High, but typically they’ve come in the “Oh my God, I can’t believe they pulled it off.” fashion.
That all changed on Sunday night. Going into the 2nd half, down by 3: the magic was there. We got this.
It would be easy to say it was all because of Peyton Freaking Manning (or PFM), and he definitely played a large role in this. This is different than Tebow. A charismatic character, Tebow didn’t necessarily inspire confidence, but more along the lines of “How did we pull THAT off?!?”. Starting deep in our territory, PFM resonated “Be patient. We got this. Let’s make it happen.”
The minute I walked into Mile High on Sunday, things felt different. No longer were fans polarized over a QB (although I did hear a Tebow-lover bash Peyton early in the 1st quarter, who was then quickly silenced by a great “3rd & long” conversion). People were there to see the Broncos succeed, believing PFM – along with the rest of the talent on the roster – would bring us there. People were actually quiet on offense and cheered at the right time. People finally rallied around the team, saving the animosity for the arrogant and obnoxious Steeler fans. With the rightful return of the primary color, Mile High Stadium once again became a unifying sea of orange. That was the moment I felt the Mile High Magic return to our stadium.
I’m not saying that the Broncos will go undefeated and win the Super Bowl. This team definitely has a lot of room for improvement and will definitely see adversity throughout the fall. At the same time, this was the first time in a very long time when fans were unified under their love for this team, the players and our hopes for this coming year. It made these last 4+ years in the desert worth it. Our patience has finally been rewarded, with a stadium experience that is finally enjoyable again.
When rumor spread that the Colts were preparing to break up with Peyton Manning, I fell asleep with visions of #18 wearing a Broncos jersey. Now a day after Peyton and Colts owner Jim Irsay gave tearful goodbyes, I’m openly daydreaming about having another one of the greatest QB’s to ever play the game wear Orange and Blue.
I’ve been following the Internet hype machine all day. As the rumors of Denver making a hard run for Peyton materialized, it became easy to come up with reasons why he should become a Bronco. Some of the many reasons that come to mind:
- Denver has a great young offensive line that fosters a great running game, of which includes a Pro-Bowl Left Tackle that will protect Peyton’s blind-side and million dollar neck.
- Denver has a defense that improved in spades last year, and if Peyton is anything like his vintage self, he’s proven that he’s able to elevate decent defenses into good defenses – imagine what he can do with a good defense?
- Denver has young solid wide receivers with tremendous upside
- Denver’s not in the same division as New England (which can’t be said for Miami), and won’t have to deal with “Manning vs Brady” twice a year
- Denver’s not in the same division as the New York Giants (which can’t be said for Washington), and won’t have to deal with “Manning vs Manning” twice a year
- Denver’s not in the same city as the New York Giants (which can’t be said for the Jets), see above.
The Tebow Factor:
I realize that it seems like the Broncos are all in on Tebow, but every single team should be asking themselves: “Is my team better off with Peyton Manning as my QB?” Of the 32 teams, only a half-dozen or so can legitimately say “yes” – Denver is not one of those teams.
I realize it may seem like a setback to send Tebow to the bench after the turn-around he had, but think about it for a second: You can’t argue that Tebow struggles with reading defenses – so imagine being able to learn how to read defenses from the guy who is arguably the best guy at reading defenses in NFL history? Tebow has the work ethic, Peyton has the ethic + and is a fountain of knowledge that will nourish Tebow.
Does it suck short-term for Tebow? Of course it will, but in the interests of Tebow’s career – this is the best thing that could happen. Tebow gains the knowledge and tutelage under one of the greatest to ever play the game, and will emerge 2 years from now a smarter QB with the same skillset, with 2 extra years of tread on his tires.
If you’re a Broncos fan, you can’t deny that Broncos wouldn’t be better off with Peyton Manning at the helm, in pretty much every way. It’ll be interesting to see how the next few days will play out. There are some teams that legitimately scare me in the Manning race: Tennessee & Arizona in particular – and I think Baltimore is a dark horse in this race that no one is talking about. Either way, this goes to prove that “waiting for NFL season to start” is almost as exciting as the NFL season itself.