United in Orange: What the Denver Broncos Taught Me

ImageI live in the state of Washington, so of course I’m surrounded by people celebrating the Seattle Seahawks’ big win in the Super Bowl.

I, however, am a big Denver Broncos fan. I think Petyon Manning is a class act. I’ve followed Knowshon Moreno since he was a Georgia Bulldog. And what Broncos fan can deny that Champ Bailey provides the quiet leadership that any team needs?

I have to admit that yesterday’s game cut pretty deep, but I have no doubt that just as I was a Broncos fan yesterday, I will be a Broncos fan tomorrow and next year. I refuse to be a “fair weather fan,” and there’s no way that I can turn my back on this team.

Here’s what the Broncos taught me this year.

1.) There’s nothing wrong with showing some emotion. When Denver played the Kansas City Chiefs, Knowshon Moreno trended on social media as he shed some serious tears during the national anthem. Some people ridiculed him. Others were proud of him for his show of emotion during a solemn moment of honoring our nation. Some of his old Georgia teammates subjected him to some playful ribbing. I thought it was beautiful. Too often, I hide emotions, believing that it’s shameful to wear my heart on my sleeve, but Knowshon Moreno taught me that whether they’re tears or smiles, emotions are good. It doesn’t matter whatever others think. Emotions are real, and there’s no shame in having–and showing–them.

2.) Resiliency is something to be admired. Champ Bailey is another former Georgia Bulldog, and I can’t help but think that there’s something beautiful going on Between the Hedges that builds classy athletes. After missing several games due to a bothersome foot injury, the sun seemed to be setting on Champ Bailey’s career. People said he was too old. They said he was getting slow. They said he was losing his touch. But he came back not only as a leader on the field after regaining  his starting cornerback position but also as a man who many of the players looked up to as a role model. Champ Bailey-the experienced veteran who has played his heart out and who said, “make the game bigger than yourselves. Play for the team. Don’t play for just one person.” He taught me that the game isn’t just about how fast you are or how young you are. It’s about how much heart you have and the love you have for the team.

3.) It’s never a bad thing to have a slice of humble pie with your meal. Although he will probably never say it out loud, Peyton Manning will go down as one of the best NFL players of all time. The fact that he’d never admit it is what makes him so great. Days before the Super Bowl, he was quoted as saying “Don’t you have to be at least 70 to have a legacy?” This year alone, he shattered numerous records, proving what his team can do when he’s at the helm, but so many of those accomplishments were eclipsed by noise from other fields. Sure the Lombardi Trophy slipped through his fingers this time, but no one can deny the talent of a quarterback who has won 5 NFL MVP recognitions. And perhaps the real play of the Super Bowl was one that most people didn’t see. After a game-ending injury, Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman, was on the sidelines on crutches. Richard Sherman, who became notorious for his NFC championship post-game speech with Erin Andrews, described the moment with Manning:

“He was really concerned about my well-being. After a game like that, a guy who’s still classy enough to say ‘How are you doing?’ To show that kind of concern for an opponent shows a lot of humility and class.

“[…] He’s a Hall of Fame player, he’s a living legend, he’s a record-holding quarterback, he’s a Super Bowl champion, he’s been a Super Bowl MVP.”

When you can earn (not demand) the respect of your opponents, you’re not just a good athlete. You’re a good person. Peyton Manning has earned the respect not only of his teammates but of the NFL with small actions like that.

Most importantly, this team has taught me about what it means to be a loyal fan. They’ve taught me that win or lose, you stick with your team. You rise and fall as a team. You celebrate and comfort each other as a team. No matter what, you proudly don the colors of your team. No matter what, you’re always ready to ride.

So congraulations to the Seattle Seahawks. They played quite a game, but as for me, this Washington girl will be Forever United in Orange.

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