I think it is safe to say that most football fans cheer for their local team(s). After all, it’s almost inherent to living in that respective market. Now imagine, if you will a family from the Jersey Shore and not one of them recognize the New Jersey Giants, New York Jets, or Philadelphia Eagles as their favorite NFL team. My father, brother, and I are living proof of this anomaly. To make this even a little stranger, none of us were even fans of the teams which garner the broadest appeal; the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, etc. (full disclosure: the Steelers were my first football love…That was until I was turned onto to my beloved Denver Broncos). No, we were truly a strange lot when it came to the teams for which we cheered. You see, my father was a Kansas City Chiefs fan. As a result, my brother became a Chiefs fan too; like father, like son. Enter the “Orange Sheep” of the family, yours truly. For some reason I felt and still feel a desire to go against the grain. As a result of a close relationship with my family members who have lived in Colorado for over 40 years now, and having spent summers with them, I was drawn to the Denver Broncos. Admittedly, I am also corny enough to have a real attraction to the colors orange and blue.
So how did Dad, a native of the great state of New Jersey, become a fan of a rather obscure AFL team 1193 miles away? Herein lies the source of great irony. It turns out that my father went to grammar school with former Broncos’ general manager, John Beake. This still doesn’t make sense, right? It will when I tell you that Beake joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 1969 as a general assistant and spent 8 years with the organization. As a result of a single degree of separation, you now understand why he has been a Chiefs fan for almost 45 years. And as I stated earlier, like father, like son. To this day, Dad still jokingly holds a grudge against Mr. Beake for leaving his beloved Chiefs for the enemy.
While K.C. got the better of the Broncos in the AFL days, Denver has obviously enjoyed much more success since the mid 1970s. While the rivalry has been a little tempered over the past dozen years or so – due to the fact that since about 1998 when one team has been competitive and the other has not – the games are still physical grudge matches. Now we’re going into week 11 of the season with the Broncos (8-1) and Chiefs (9-0) arguably the two best teams in the AFC and maybe the NFL. For the first time since 1997 (this late in the season), this matchup is for first place in the AFC West and the inside track to home field advantage throughout the playoffs. To sweeten the pot, the two sides face each other twice in four weeks; at which point we should have a much clearer picture of how the division will shake out.
I know my brother and I will be texting a lot during the game as it will be nationally televised on Sunday night and we’ll both be able to watch it. I assure you though, the messages will be civil and respectful…no matter how much I may be gritting my teeth. Here’s even more irony for you. My brother, Mark lives in Colorado. Talk about going against the grain.
I chose to write this article today because it is Mark’s Birthday today. So Happy Birthday, big Brother…but I wish you and Dad an unhappy football Sunday coming up. No offense and all the love!