Sunday, February 07, 2016

A History of Super Bowl Sadness

I've been a Broncos fan as long as I can remember. When I was little, my aunt and uncle lived in Denver and they'd bring us Broncos stuff when they came to town. Nothing was cooler than when they got my oldest sister an autographed John Elway poster that looked just like this. (Of course Elway looked great as a fighter pilot.)

We've had lots of great memories together, the Broncos and me. There was "The Drive" against Cleveland, The Three Amigos, and Rich Karlis' barefooted kicking. But there was there was also sadness.

So much Super Bowl sadness.

Super Bowl XXI - 1987 (Age 6)

My first Super Bowl as a Broncos' fan. Coming into the game, my confidence was high. Going out, my spirits were crushed. 

Back in those days, they always showed Disneyland commercials after the game. "Phil Simms, you just won the Super Bowl. What are you going to do now?" 

"I'm going to DISNEYLAND!"

Stupid Phil Simms. I hated him so bad. 

Super Bowl XXII - 1988 (Age 7)

Back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. There was no way the Broncos were going to lose two in a row, especially after John Elway threw a touchdown pass on his first play of the game. Then they kicked a field goal and went up 10-0. We've got this in the bag!

Nope. The Redskins went on to score 42 unanswered points. I went into the bathroom so my parents wouldn't see me cry. 

Doug Williams got to go to Disneyland. I hated him so bad. 

Super Bowl XXIV - 1990 (Age 9)

The 49ers pummeled the Broncos 55-10. My poor little heart couldn't take any more.

Super Bowl XXXII - 1998 (Age 17)

Over the next few years, things changed. I went from being a kid to being a teenager. I stopped thinking about football and started thinking about music and girls. I kept watching the Broncos--but passively and at arms length. (I couldn't let myself get hurt again, now could I?)

When the Broncos made it to another Super Bowl, I told myself it was no big deal. The Packers were really good and clearly the Broncos had trouble winning the big game. If they lost, they lost. I was an angsty teenager. I wasn't going to cry for John Elway (again).

But the game was close. The Broncos had a chance. The Broncos had a chance but I wasn't going to get too excited. The Broncos were going to win this game but I wasn't going to believe it.

Then John Elway--now Old Man John Elway--was leaping in the air. He's diving for the first down. He got it! It was time to believe.

And then it happened. The Broncos won the Super Bowl! They hoisted John Elway onto their shoulders and they may as well have been hoisting me, too.

Super Bowl XXXIII - 1999 (Age 18)

Another back-to-back Super Bowl. I was a freshman in college. My roommate
was from Atlanta. He cheered for the Falcons and I cheered for the Broncos. He left sad, I was happy. But I was busy thinking about music and girls and a mission that was right around the corner.

I don't know if John Elway was ever invited to Disneyland, but he definitely rode off into the sunset. Everything was good in the world.

Super Bowl XLVIII - 2014 (Age 33)

The years that came next were tough. There was Brian Griese (no one remembers Brian Griese) and Jake Cutler (no one liked Jake Cutler) and Jake Plummer (I liked Jake Plummer and wrote about it here). And, of course, there was Tebow.

But the Broncos didn't become the Broncos again until Peyton came to town.

In the past few years, I fallen in love with football again. I don't think I've missed a Broncos game in a decade. And with Peyton, the Broncos were really good.

Sure, Peyton fumbled the first snap and the Seahawks scored a touchdown. We'd come back. I was as confident about a Broncos victory as I had been been in the opening minutes of Super Bowl XXI.

When the Seahawks scored again, I was still okay. We had five-time MVP Peyton Manning. We'd be fine.

But we weren't. The Seahawks put up 43 points.

We were watching the game at a friend's house. I didn't cry, but the memories of all those Super Bowl losses came rushing back.

I could just picture every single one of those Seahawks going to Disneyland--right along with Phil Simms, Doug Williams, and Joe Montana. And I hated all of them.

Super Bowl 50 - 2016 (Age 35)

Today's the day. Will Old Man Peyton channel Old Man Elway and go out on top? Or will I be left crying in the bathroom once again? 

This year, I've got family on my side. Paige will be sporting her Peyton Manning t-shirt and Tate says he's going to wear all three of his Broncos shirts at the same time. Curtis, of course, hates the Broncos and will be cheering for the Panthers. 

Six hours 'til kickoff...

No comments: