What Happens When a Kid Seahawks Fan Becomes a Grown-up Broncos Fan


photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc
photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

Today, I have a special guest on Coach Daddy: Me.

Me, age 8, that is. A Seattle Seahawks fan. Today, we’re going to talk about the Super Bowl. You might have heard that my current favorite team, my home-state Denver Broncos, will face Seattle in the Super Bowl in less than a week.

I chose Seattle as my favorite team at age 6.

At age 15, when my family moved to North Carolina, I converted to a Broncos fan.

This is the first time Eli, 8, has spoken with Eli, 42. Even though Grace still wear’s the same Seahawks shirt Little E wore at her age.

Little E: Hey man!

SB12
Eli, age 8, in a fake Seahawks jersey.

Big E: Hey dude. Big game Sunday.

Little E: Yeah. How the heck are the Seahawks and Broncos in the Super Bowl? I thought they were in the same division.

Big E: They were. OK, a few things have changed since you watched football.

There are four divisions in each league, four teams in each division, and 32 teams. Seattle moved to the NFC West. The Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis. The Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens. The NFL expanded to Charlotte and Jacksonville first, then to Houston and Cleveland, who took the Browns name. The Cardinals move to Arizona, the Rams moved to St. Louis, and they’re both in the NFC West. Indianapolis is in the AFC South, with makes tons of sense. At least the Tennessee Titans – who used to be the Houston Oilers – belong there.

And the raiders still stink.

Little E: Cool. But, how’d you – I – become a Broncos fan?

Big E: We moved from Colorado to North Carolina when I was 15. I got on the plane as a Seahawks fan. Weeks after the move, Denver played the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl.

I had to sit on a cold, dank bus with a bunch of southern kids talking smack about the Broncos. This was before Carolina had a team, so most people here were Redskins fans.

I put on the Broncos shirt, and it felt right. I remember the moment it became official. Denver led 10-0 in the first quarter, and Redskins quarterback Doug Williams fumbled. Rulon Jones recovered it, and I felt like the route was on.

But, it wasn’t. Officials gave the ball back to Washington. They said he “gave himself up,” and the play was dead. I fumed. Like, really fumed.

photo credit: Cryptonaut via photopin cc
photo credit: Cryptonaut via photopin cc

Little E: Like when dad put a sidewalk over where I buried my plastic dinosaurs?

Big E: Ha … yeah, just like that!

Little E: I never got that mad at Seahawks games. Just sad. Like, when they got to play on Thanksgiving, and lost 51-7 to Dallas. Or, when they beat Denver 13-10 when Rick Karlis missed a field goal, and I jumped up in the air – but ended up running from dad into the bathroom!

Big E: He was pissed. I mean, angry! Why did you ever pick the Seahawks?

Little E: Jim Zorn. He was my hero. He was a left-handed quarterback, like me. And the helmets were SO cool.

Big E: Have you seen them now?

Little E: Woah!

Big E: I like the old ones better. Did I tell you I met Jim Zorn?

Little E: Uh-uh.

crush eli
Little E, age 6, in a Broncos shirt, with Darth Vader on one shoulder, C3-PO on the other.

Big E: Uh-huh! I was so nervous. He was an assistant coach with the Seahawks, and after a game I covered at Carolina, I caught up with him in the tunnel on the way to the team bus.

Little E: Did you tell him your nickname was Zorn when you were a kid?

Big E: He didn’t even freak out.

Little E: I still can’t believe Denver and Seattle are in the Super Bowl.

Big E: It’s the first time Denver’s been in since they won two straight!

Little E: Wait – they’ve won the Super Bowl??

Big E: Back to back! First, they beat Green Bay, and then Atlanta.

Little E: Wait – Atlanta went to a Super Bowl?

Big E: You’ve missed so much, kid. I wish dad could see this. When Denver beat Atlanta, John Elway was MVP. It was the last Broncos game dad ever saw.

Little E: Wait … what do you mean, the last game?

My dad, in a Broncos shirt I still have, holding Elise.
My dad, in a Broncos shirt I still have, holding Elise.

Big E: Oh, man. Hey, can I have a minute here with the kid?

(two hours later)

Big E: You OK?

Little E: Yeah. I just can’t believe he’s gone.

Big E: Me either. There’s hardly a day that I don’t think of what life would be like with him here still. Barbecues. Broncos games. The girls’ soccer games. But, you should know this: Things will get better between you two. When you get bigger.

You’ll become closer. He’ll become your best friend.

Little E: Cool.

Big E: I’m nervous about this game.

Back then, it was all Seahawks, Star Wars, and disco shirts.
Back then, it was all Seahawks, Star Wars, and disco shirts.

Little E: Me too. Are you going to root for Seattle, even a little?

Big E: No. I’m a Broncos fan now. Zorn’s gone. The Kingdome’s gone. But, I’m glad I was you. You taught me courage, faith, being comfortable with who you are. You wore your personality so proudly.

That takes courage, kid. I am who I am because of you, and the Seahawks, in a way.

Little E: I’m glad we talked. I am happy someone actually likes me enough to have a family with me and I become a dad. And a sports writer! How cool is that? That’s like a dream come true. I’m happy I will turn out OK. I worry sometimes I won’t. That a girl won’t ever like me. That I’m always just going to be a weird kid.

Big E: We’re both weird, don’t forget that.

Little E: You might be.

Big E: You little … Good luck on Sunday, kid. I love you.

Little E: I love you too. Good luck. Is it true you still have my Star Wars figures?

Big E: Every single one, kid.

Every single one.

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70 thoughts on “What Happens When a Kid Seahawks Fan Becomes a Grown-up Broncos Fan

  1. oh i love this so much, zorn. the shared shirts, the poor entombed dinos, your dad, the generations, the teams, the loyalties. just like a sporty, loving soap opera. you were/are a doll. ps – i hung w the seahawks fans when they were in detroit for the Super Bowl, a few years back and we had a blast with them.

    1. I haven’t been called Zorn in ages! The shared shirts are very important to us – I have my dad’s Broncos shirts, and Grace still wears one of those three-quarter-sleeve Seahawks t-shirts i wore when I was her age … it’s barely held together, and might not survive the next wash cycle, but she wears it all the time.

      No bad intentions for Seahawks fans, but there’s no doubt who I want to win on Sunday. (And you made the right choice to hang with Seahawks fans that year, given the alternative from the AFC.)

      1. well, how did it feel, hearing your name after so many years? i became ‘peaches’ when i was just a very little girl, no one seems to know the origin, and i’ve reclaimed it, as an adult. the shirts make me really happy to read about, i had each of my daughters wear my first dress when they were babies, made me cry to see them in it. as for the seahawks, even though they lost here, they were fun and friendly, but they were really no match for the steelers, the team nor the fans. best of luck to your broncos, zorn. ) peaches

      2. oh, absolutely! part of the whole fun of sporting events is the anticipation and worry leading up to them. otherwise they would be boring and no big deal. fidget away, my man )

  2. Love the way you told this story, Eli. How amazing would it be to have an honest conversation with our younger selves? I would tell my 8 y/o self to keep my nose buried in books and not worry so much about being labeled a nerd. Nerds become pretty cool people! I really love how both young Eli and present-day Eli learned from each other. Young Eli showed us it’s ok to buck the trend and find our own paths, whether it’s choosing a different team or rockin’ the latest fashion (couldn’t resist…the disco shirt is AWESOME!). Eli today realizes that, through the course of life, we grow to appreciate, and in many ways, emulate our parents’ best traits. We are who we are because of the many people who shape our lives. Well done, Eli! And good luck on Sunday. I’ll be rooting for the Broncos!

    1. Glad to have your backing for the Broncos. I didn’t see it as bravery back then, being who I was. I had no choice. Looking back, I can appreciate who I was.

      I might not be your favorite, but I hope I’ll always be memorable.

      At 8, I wouldn’t have needed details. Just assurance things would be OK. I’ll take that. Even now.

      1. Indeed! Payton Manning is a class act. I would support him even if he played for a team that I didn’t support! Enjoy the game! 😉

  3. This is great, Big E! We lived in Denver during John Elway’s rein and the folks there loved him! We were back in Virginia cheering for our Redskins by the time the Doug Williams and the Redskins won the Superbowl; but this morning I couldn’t have told you that they played Denver until after I read your post. We’ll be cheering for the Broncos on Sunday, too!

  4. This was awesome!!! Wouldn’t it be cool if we really could have these kind of conversations as a child – just that reality touch to know that things really are going to be OK!!!

    1. Thanks Kim! Actually, knowing things would really be OK would probably take some of the zing out of life, now that I think about it. Sweating it out is part of how we grow!

  5. Is it ok to admit that this made me cry? Because it did.

    My husband and I are terrible about following football, but we just moved to Seattle. There’s a lot of excitement here right now, and it’s contagious. My 3-year-old is enjoying it especially. So for the first time ever, I’ll be watching the actual game rather than the commercials, and I’m totally ok with that.

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful perspective.

    1. I cried writing it too, and hope I don’t cry again on Sunday if the wrong team wins.

      When the Carolina Panthers went to the Super Bowl a few years ago, things were rocking here, too. It was like that in Colorado the first time Denver went to the Super Bowl when I was 6.

      Thanks for checking in Lauren – and if you find yourself rooting for Denver on Sunday, just go with it!

  6. I was not expecting to get a little weepy in the middle of this post, Eli, but I did. And I loved seeing photos of little E – you haven’t changed much! Eight year old me would not have a clue who was in the Superbowl, and she wouldn’t care. But now I have a house full of football fans, and we will be rooting for the Seahawks on Sunday along with little E.

    1. It was tougher to write than I thought it would be. I definitely haven’t changed maturity-wise! 5-year-old me knew all the NFL divisions by heart and all the teams’ quarterbacks, thanks to my dad and the Street & Smith’s football magazines he’d give me when he was finished.

      I won’t hold it against you that you’re rooting for the wrong side Sunday … feel free to jump to our side at any point.

  7. Me too.
    I still have all of my Star Wars toys. All of them. And remember, I’m going to start doing my own fantastic stock photography with them. The one above is particularly perfect.
    Oh, to have conversations with myself.

  8. There’s just no end to all the great things about sports and being a football fan. I loved your trip down memory lane, the pictures, your dad – all of it! My dad was a huge Dolphins fan, I turned into a Packer fan in college (long story) and my brother is a Broncos fan. I’m happy to say I’ll be watching the game with him this weekend and I cannot wait!!!

    1. You learn about good times and bad, and loyalty, when you pick a team to root for. Thanks Allie … I hadn’t thought about what it was like to be a Seahawks fan in Colorado, and I think I’ll wear my dad’s shirt on the big day.

      Your dad could have fared much worse with your brother and you – you could have picked the Patriots and Jets!

      I think all girls should watch this game with their dad.

  9. OMG, I want to cuddle that cute little boy! I would love to hear what other conversations you have with your younger self. You know, football must be great and all, I guess. Hahaha – don’t reject my comment AGAIN, please, OK? Just because I typed that hockey team in capital letters.

    To me the fact that little E is happy about how he/you turned out is wonderful. Much better than the kid with Bruce Willis:
    http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/2013/11/the-future-me.html

    PS: why would you bury your dinosaurs?

    1. He was a mess. I think we’d also have a fun convo about the new Star Wars movies, and what it was like to leave Colorado. Football is great – it’s what bonded my dad and I when a lot of other things couldn’t.

      I never reject any comments here at Coach Daddy, but you can be sure to get through if you’ll kindly tip the bellman. Others said they had trouble too, and I swear, I’ve kept up with all the bills.

      Typing *that* hockey team in all caps will mark you, though.

      I think Little E worried that Big E would never become a dad.

      P.S. Any boy knows – you bury stuff so you can dig it up!

  10. Great pic of your dad and Elise… so sweet! You know, you could solve both your & Little E’s problem by becoming a Panthers fan! Just sayin… or you could go for Seattle because Russell Wilson went to State… OR, you could just enjoy wings and commercials (which I plan to do!)

    1. Thanks Caroline – I love that one, and I think they’re both asleep! We have an appreciation for the Panthers, being here in Charlotte (and I help cover them for the AP), and there’s definitely no problem with Super Bowl Sunday – we’re Broncos, all the way.

      Russell Wilson was one of my favorite interviews this year (with Colin Kaepernick and Matt Ryan), and it’s cool he went to N.C. State, but I think he’s a year away. At least.

      Our Super Bowl menu always features an item from each team’s city … I’m thinking salmon? Steak? Definitely not Rocky Mountain Oysters.

      1. It wasn’t so awesome when Pittsburgh made it, and we had to make perogies. Wings are easy … want me to send you an easy baked-wings recipe?

        Just please, don’t serve any food that is in the shape of footballs or helmets … real football parties don’t demean the game and snacks like that. (Feels like a post that needs to come out!)

  11. I came for the cute photos but stayed for the great writing 😉 Your post had me smiling all the way through, I loved it. I may not be a big sports fan, but I am an Eli fan….does that count?

    1. I think that’s why people watched “Webster” back in the 80s. Well, the first part anyway. Glad you liked it. Any good Eli fan will root hard for the Broncos this weekend. Even the bad ones, actually.

      1. Exactly, hair today, gone tomorrow. It would be good to go back and have a little chat with your 8 year old self. Oh my gawd the things I could say and the advice I would give. It boggles the mind.

  12. What a sweet post. I was expecting smack talk and then almost shed a tear. I lived in Denver when the Broncos won the super bowl. It was nuts. While I never really was a fan (go Pats! -probably shouldn’t have said that), I had fun going to Mile High Stadium (the original one). I worked for the MLS team there, so I got to hang out in the bowels of the stadium. Not as luxurious as it sounds. I need some Parmesan garlic wings now….

    1. Thanks Jen. It’s tough to smack-talk yourself at age 8, and I don’t think back then I’d even come close to mastering the art (my daughters, though, can jaw with the best of them).

      A Super Bowl win (or loss) takes a whole region with it. I remember the years Denver lost – we’d actually wear black to mourn the next day.

      Pats fans are OK on here for now … helps that the AFC Championship game went the way it did! I’ve never been to the new stadium, so ‘old’ Mile High will always be the one in my memory.

      The bowels of the stadium is the place to be.

      I’m conditioned to want those wings the instant I see your avatar. Or hear the name Jen. Or wake up in the morning.

  13. nice post, I grew up an Oiler fan… then I moved to San Francisco, then Dallas, then finally here – Chicago and I stayed an Oiler fan until they moved to Tennessee…. jerks…. I am a nomad of sorts when it comes to rooting for teams.. I pull for the Packers, the Niners, and the Broncos.. I even rooted for the hated Cowboys when I had Romo on my fantasy team! I am hoping the Broncos win, but in a close game.. nothing like the Broncos – Niners game which ended in 55-10, ugly!

    1. Thanks Clay – I miss the Houston Oilers. It sucks when a team’s identity goes away like that did. Are there even Titans in Tennessee?

      Fantasy players change everything. Tony Romo is one funny dude. I know that means nothing for fantasy points, but I think most people in sports journalism don’t appreciate what a funny dude he is.

      I’m predicting Denver 27-23, and just close enough to make it tough for me to enjoy my salmon and steak that day. I’d really rather win 55-10 – when that happened to the Broncos, we were down 35-3 at halftime. We stopped watching the game to have dinner, then my dad said, “well, I guess we should go back to the game.” And we dutifully watched our boys get their asses handed to them.

    1. First – thanks! I peaked at age 9. Second – there were a few awkward silences in the interview I had to edit out. Third – I’ll be relieved at first if Denver wins, then thrilled to be able to celebrate another championship.

      I’m already thinking about the game! I’ve played it out in my head over and over.

  14. I’m loving all the Star Wars figures and your Lego pictures. I was playing with some of my son’s last night and had that very thought: I hope he never gets rid of the toys.
    This reminds me of that time when big Les met the idol Little Les first saw that made her fall in love with hockey. Guy Lafleur. *sigh*
    I’m gonna need a moment….

    1. I’m going for the stormtrooper theme on every post. I still have my Matchbox cars, too. It’s up to you to keep these treasures in the family, Rory.

      Guy Lafleur … I hope you write a post someday of the all-Rory hockey team. All your dreamboats. I used to keep a list of WNBA All-Eli team players. They were a distinguished side, for sure.

  15. What an amazing post! Oh the things I would tell an 8 year old me…Scary! LOL! I tell my kids all of the time that they are surrounded by a family of weirdos! 🙂
    Not being a huge football fan, though the hubby is a Dolphins fan through and through! LOL! I will for sure be rooting for Denver in this Super Bowl for two reasons…one is because I think that Peyton is a stand up dude and two is for my late sister, who was a die-hard Broncos fan!

    1. Thanks Stacey! I don’t know that the 8-year-old versions of us would heed much of the advice, though.

      Go Broncos then … for hubby who is a Dolphins fan, we have to keep it in the same conference, after all.

  16. I think there is something to be said for sustained allegiances. Living in Seattle at the time the franchise launched, I donned a ‘Hawks shirt and have never parted ways — even though I’ve lived in, worked and moved to many times since. Kind of like being a die-hard Yankees fan, but that’s another story. 🙂 Largent was my hero until he entered politics. That’s another story, too.

    So glad you acknowledged the Raiders for being what they are. 🙂

    Oh, and the Kingdome. Yes it’s gone, as it was doomed to be. Can you imagine what would happen in that old concrete cavern with today’s crowds stomping? A disaster waiting to happen.

    Enjoyed this post and your blog focus. Thanks for sharing the link. And please, football gods, don’t let the Rams repeat their earlier season results manana.

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