Friday afternoon after the kids had all rushed out into the blur that would become their weekend, I caught up with one of our first grade teachers who was buzzing with as much excitement as any of his students. He is an Indianapolis Colts fan and, if it hadn't been apparent at any previous juncture, he was wearing his Peyton Manning jersey to drive the point home. His eyes were a little wild when I finally captured his attention. I asked him if he would be watching the game and a frown began to form. How could I be asking such a dim question? Then, as quickly as the storm blew in, it receded and he laughed. "Yeah," he told me, "I'll probably watch a quarter or two." With that, he was off, trailing blue and white vapor trails behind him, positively giddy.
When he was gone, I found myself just a tad lonesome. Not for anyone or anything in particular, but for a time when I was that enthusiastic about a Super Bowl. It's been more than a decade since the Denver Broncos have played in a Super Bowl, and though I have made some efforts to spread my football fanaticism across the league, I while I no longer bleed orange and blue we still have Band-Aids with the Broncos' logo on them.
I remember all those other Sundays, six of them, when I woke up early to watch every possible moment of coverage. From pre-pre-game to post-post-game, I soaked it all in. Even those first four inglorious defeats still ended with us in second place. I watched some awful football on four of those Sundays, and even worse halftime shows. But I didn't want to miss that one great comeback.
Then in 1997, we got that Super Monkey of the collective backs of Broncos fans everywhere, and the next year put a stake through its heart for good. There are still, as I reminded my son this week, NFL franchises that have yet to play in a single Super Bowl. Only four of them now, and I imagine the folks in Detroit may be the saddest of the bunch, since Cleveland fans can tag off on that Baltimore Ravens asterisk and the Jaguars and Texans have a little more history to make before they become truly desperate.
And yet, when the sun begins to set on Joe Robbie Pro Player Dolphin Land Shark Sun Life stadium, I will be sitting in front of a television with the same vicarious anticipation that most of the rest of the world will be savoring. I could go out to the movies or take a hike with my family instead of consuming fistfuls of potato chips and staring blankly at commercials scientifically engineered to be discussed more than the game from which they purchased advertising time. But I might miss something great. Something Super.