It’s funny how life naturally has its own system of checks and balances.
The highs never last forever, nor do the lows.
I entered Invesco through Tunnel A and made my way through security checkpoints before taking an elevator up to the fourth level of the stadium to get to the press box. I walked past the official replay booth – you know, the one they always talk about being “upstairs.”
I entered the enclosed press box where thousands of Broncos’ articles, good and bad, have been written over the years.
The seating chart pointed me in the direction of the north goal line, right up against the window, and next to the large group of Denver Post columnists.
I fired up my computer and sat there for a minute just taking in the scenery from high above the field. With the 11:15 AM games playing on the T.V. in the background, I could already tell I was in for the time of my life.
Prior to the game starting, I was given inside information about attendance, the weather, and the starters.
Once kickoff ensued, the box turned into a sports writer’s dream environment. All I could hear was the pecking of laptop keys, a few “uh-oh’s” and “aww’s” from surrounding writers, and the press box announcer keeping us informed of player injuries, stats, and happenings on the field. I had stat sheets thrown at me left and right as one quarter ended and another began.
I was instructed that if I wanted to get player interviews, I had to get down to field level with five minutes remaining in the game. It was there that I watched as the Broncos successfully recovered an onside kick, and gave Tim Tebow the opportunity to heave a couple of Hail Mary’s down the field.
Literally, on the same playing field as the Broncos, I could see and feel exactly what the players were experiencing. Rocky Mountain Thunder is just as loud as you experience it in the stands and you can almost feel the breath of the 76,000 fans watching.
I waited by the southwest tunnel as players exited for the final time of the 2010 season. Daniel Graham took off his helmet and gave it to a middle-aged woman who looked like she had just won the lottery. Perrish Cox threw his gloves to a young boy right above my head. Kyle Orton nearly sprinted off the field to get a head start getting ready in the locker room. Owner Pat Bowlen waved to fans, acknowledging that he is still truly invested in the team. Rookie Eric Decker waived to his family and smiled as he walked off the field with his first career touchdown reception at the surface of his memory bank.
The emotion and storylines were there, all at eye level.
The coaches and players have a 10-minute cooling off period after the game, and then media is allowed into the locker room.
When I walked in to the sacred ground that is a locker room, I remembered that this space is like someone else’s home. It’s to be respected and honored.
I gathered with the other members of the media in front of Brandon Lloyd’s locker. He did just solidify his season as the No.1 receiver in the league as far as total yards go.
Then, I made my way over to Eddie Royal to hear his thoughts on the future of the Broncos. Always optimistic, Royal kept his answers brief but positive.
Next, I decided to head towards the podium because I heard that Tim Tebow was going to speak. The questions flew at him left and right, but the young QB kept his poise and did a fine job balancing the good and the bad.
As interview time concluded, I made my way back to the press box, and shared an elevator with Jim Saccomano, the Broncos onetime Vice President of Public Relations who is now the Vice President of Corporate Communications. After being with the team for 33 years, all I could think was that he’s ridden this particular elevator hundreds of times while this is ride number one for me.
I sat in the press box until 9 PM finishing off some posts, but mostly taking my time and enjoying the dimly lit stadium in front of me.
I waved to a security guard and exited the stadium under a crisp dark night with downtown Denver to the east and snow covered mountains to the west. What a perfect day, I thought.
I walked up a hill to where I had parked my car nine hours earlier. Walking, walking, walking. Wasn’t my car supposed to be here, I thought?
I ended up parking off of Invesco grounds to avoid paying for parking. Plus, I thought a brief walk would do me some good prior to and following a long day at the stadium.
I was so excited before the game that I had failed to fully read the parking sign. All I saw was “No parking anytime, except Saturday’s and Sunday’s.” I saw other cars there and so automatically had no reservations about parking my vehicle there.
Nine hours later when the excitement calmed down a bit, and I re-read the parking sign, I saw all of the same writing except these key words following what I had previously read: “…for vehicles with Permit A.”
With my car officially towed (twice – first to a temporary holding lot, and then to the city’s vehicle impound facility), I was stranded.
This would never happen to Woody Paige or Mike Klis, I thought.
After making some phone calls, I was told where my car was located. I put the address in MapQuest, and was informed that the facility was exactly 3.1 miles from my house, and opened at 7 AM. Perfect. That’s the exact distance of a 5k and I was going to run anyway.
I woke up this morning, laced up my shoes, and decided to try and play the Broncos’ card when retrieving my vehicle, hoping that the employee was a Broncos’ fan.
I entered the building at the impound lot, and the woman behind the counter saw that my car was picked up near Invesco.
“You were at the game yesterday,” she stated.
“Yup,” I asserted. “Did you see the game?”
“I was there,” she said. “It was my first game.”
Perfect, I thought. Here’s my chance.
“I was given press credentials for the first time ever, and was so excited about the game that when I parked, I didn’t read the entire sign,” I said under one long breath.
“That’s too bad,” she said.
I continued, “I would have paid the $30 to park in a lot had I known that there was even a remote chance of this happening.”
She laughed, but didn’t sympathize.
“Any way I can only pay half the fine,” I courageously asked.
“No” flew out of her mouth quicker than a skydiver falls out of an airplane.
There was no use in stating my case any longer. I’m sure that lady has heard every excuse in the book.
With that said, I returned home with my vehicle but a much lighter wallet.
Bailing out my towed vehicle – $240
Parking ticket on said vehicle – $50
Last night’s pizza – $14
Press credentials at Invesco – Priceless
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