Life is filled, and at times, measured by first-time milestones that our society deems important. Your first steps, your first day of school, your first high school job, your first car, your first crush, your first broken heart, high school graduation, college graduation, etc. As we get older, milestones change but they still remain – your first major job, your wedding date, your first child, and the list goes on.
The NFL season, for both players and fans, is very similar to life in the fact that there are ups and downs, and we mark “first time events” because it is something we want to remember. For the NFL team, obviously, the first win of a season is significant, as well as, the vast amount of statistical measures that I assume a team tracks throughout the season. Depending on the type of fan you are, you may or may not recall significant events in a typical NFL season.
As a Denver Bronco season ticket holder who, unfortunately, no longer lives in Colorado, a lot of planning is required as football season gets underway. The first game of the season I attend in person is always a special moment. I am very fortunate because I have seen the Broncos play in person over a hundred times. Watching the Broncos play in Denver has become the norm, and I often forget or don’t think about the Bronco fans who have never been to Colorado to watch the Broncos play or may never get the opportunity.
This season’s first game, I had the opportunity to bring my in-laws with me to the game. My father-in-law has been to a few Bronco games with me, but my mother-in-law has never been to a live NFL football game. Not only has my mother in-law never been to a live game, I would venture
to say that in the 15+ years we have known each other, she has probably never sat down and watched an entire pro football game (Super Bowl Commercials don’t count). For some time, we have talked about going to a Bronco game, and after much planning and organizing on their deck, we finally decided the Cincinnati game would work best. Knowing this was going to occur, I spent a couple of evenings watching preseason football at my in-laws’ house giving my mother-in-law a crash course in football.
I served as their guide for the day; much like a fishing or hunting guide would do for visitors who aren’t familiar with the area. Even though kickoff didn’t occur until 2:15 pm MST, our day started early, because die-hard Bronco fans (especially those who have travelled from out-of-state) know that a Bronco home game is not just a three hour football game; it is a major event. After taking the Light Rail and rickshaw to the stadium, we spent most of our time in the Bronco Barn enjoying the pre-game festivities. My mother-in-law thoroughly enjoyed all the pre-game entertainment – the band, Miles the mascot, the cheerleaders, and the Bronco Stampede. While at the Bronco Barn, all three of us took full advantage of the Bud Light Happy Hour. It is amazing how people, who don’t know each other at all, instantly become bonded due to attending an NFL football game or rooting for the same team. If you’re a people watcher, the Bronco Barn is a great place to spend pre-game; the fans, with all their apparel and face paint, come out in droves.
As kickoff approached and the time to depart toward the stadium drew near, I handed my season tickets to my in-laws and ventured to the east side of the stadium to acquire my first half-price ticket. As I stood in line, I wondered what my mother-in-law was experiencing (and thinking) as she entered a stadium that would soon have 75,000 people watching football. I finally got to my seat, which fortunately was directly behind my season tickets, right before the national anthem. For the next three hours, we were totally into the game and witnessed the Broncos’ first win of the young 2011 season. The Bronco fans around us were more than willing to help explain the game and all the things around the stadium to add to my mother-in-law’s entertainment or help her track the game. Following another rickshaw ride to the Light Rail, we headed downtown for dinner on the 16th Street Mall. Overall, a very fun trip, and most importantly, my mother-in-law now knows that I go to Colorado for so much more than “a football game.”
I talked to my mother-in-law, yesterday, and she mentioned that overall, the entire weekend was incredibly fun (again, thank goodness the Broncos won). I told her, “Just think, tomorrow the NFL does it all over again in 15 stadiums across the country; football fans everywhere will
be doing what we did last Sunday.”
Sports Authority Field at Mile High sits empty today, but in homes and sports bars around Denver and the country, Bronco fans will be cheering for their team. A Sunday with NFL football is always special, but when your team is at home and you get to “experience” it live, it is very special. There is a mother- in-law in Kansas, who wouldn’t have understood this if her favorite son-in-law wouldn’t have dragged her all the way to Colorado for a “football game.”