Chris Harris reacts against the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

The Five Stages of Grief and Getting Over the Denver Broncos 2012 Season

We’re just 80 days away from the 2013 NFL season, which has the Denver Broncos hosting the Baltimore Ravens to kick things off.

Personally, I’ve successfully gone through the Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of grief after the double overtime divisional playoff loss in mid-January.

Walking out of the stadium that night, I was in complete denial. The utter silence, with the exception of numb footsteps outside Sports Authority Field, had my mind reeling. “We’ll just suit up again next week,” I thought. Orange logic = “That 70-yard bomb didn’t really just provide the crushing blow to our 2012 season.”

As denial wore off, the anger built. I felt abandoned by my team. I had to point a finger or two. The problem was, I didn’t have enough fingers to point. The Broncos were right in their postgame series of cliches. It was a team loss. For me, too many mistakes and not enough luck made the blame game as difficult as herding cats.

The anger eventually subsided, and bargaining arose. If only my team could be spared. I would have given up that 34-17 win in Baltimore just weeks earlier. I would have traded that thumping of the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night football in October. Hell, I would have even given up that historic come from behind win against the San Diego Chargers when the Broncos were down 24-0 at halftime. Consider those regular season wins tokens of my appreciation for a divisional playoff win. If only.

The fourth stage of grief, depression, didn’t set in until the Ravens won the Super Bowl. Coupled with the fact that football was over, my team, our team, lost to the Super Bowl champions. We had the game in our pockets against the eventual Super Bowl champions. Days of rocking back-and-forth in the shower may have happened.

Currently, I’m at the acceptance stage of grief. I’ve accepted the reality of the loss and learned to live with it. It’s the new normal. The Ravens went to the White House to meet President Obama. Done deal. The good thing is we’re just 80 days away from revenge. The Broncos added Wes Welker, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Quentin Jammer, Shaun Phillips, and beef to offensive and defensive lines. The new normal may just be better than the past.

I hope that you, too, have successfully navigated the stages of grief. If you have, then give this a watch for entertainment value. If you haven’t, then you have until September 5 to get there.

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