I feel you, Panthers fans.
I’m not just saying that because I must live, work, and maneuver amongst you for an undetermined length of time. I’m saying this because I hear the bitter denial (it wasn’t you, it was us!), see the sad gazes, know that feeling of watching your team lose a game and sometimes its innocence on the biggest stage of all.
This understated Broncos polo I wear today? It’s older than some of you and belonged to my dad.
I chose it from his closet just weeks after he died. Not to make this a sob story, but it’s a big deal to me. The last game dad saw was Denver winning its second straight Super Bowl, against Atlanta in Super Bowl XXXIII. The win was more relief than jubilation, which is crazy to say about a championship.
That’s what the Super Bowl is, though.
Because the loss is devastating.
I know it isn’t life or death. I thought of none of Denver’s Super Bowl losses – then five, to become six – the day I stood in my dad’s closet. I pulled polo shirts from hangers and took his running shoes before I stopped in the middle of the closet and cried.
I don’t know how long she was there, but my sister hugged me from behind right then.
Gamedays bring dad back to us. The Denver Broncos have been that constant force in my life, that way of life or even religion I rebelled from as a kid, but to which I turned with all my heart as a teenager. I was born again.
Leading up to Sunday, electricity crackled in Charlotte. My phone blew up with memes declaring Denver’s inevitable doom and Carolina’s coronation. If you don’t know what it is to dab today in Charlotte, I wish I knew which rock you’ve been resting under.
Do they deliver pizza there?
When I was 6, we bought “Rolling to the Dome” orange T-shirts and gathered at malls to see backup quarterbacks and treat them like rock stars. Denver lost to Dallas, 27-10.
When I was 16, my parents went to a Super Bowl party and I had friends over and also a girl, Tina. We snacked like champs and I even kissed Tina which was a big deal. Denver lost to the New York Giants, 39-20.
When I was 17, we’d just moved from Colorado to North Carolina. Pre-Panthers, this was Redskins country. The new kids in town for less than two weeks, we had to hear all the junk and watched the game alone. Denver lost to Washington, 42-10.
When I was 19, we watched Denver miraculously beat Cleveland again, and immediately dreaded what came next. Another Super Bowl. Against a better team than we’d ever faced. We trailed 35-3 at halftime and ate a solemn dinner.
“I guess the game’s going to be back on soon,” my dad said. We trudged to the living room to endure 30 more minutes of carnage. Denver lost to San Francisco, 55-10.
When I was 42, the favorite team of my youth, the Seattle Seahawks, made it to the Super Bowl to face Denver. I hated it. I dreaded it. The game got out of hand early and I threw my Broncos cap across the room and topped a set of Russian babushka dolls.
Denver lost to Seattle 43-8.
Thing is, I remember the score of each of those games without looking them up.
Belief, so strong
Denver has now won three Super Bowls, but that’s not what today is about.
Today is about knowing what it feels like.
Not just to lose … but maybe more, to believe something will happen in a day so strongly in your heart that you don’t even consider the alternative. How it scoops a chunk right out of your heart like some kind of demented melon scooper.
What’s that next day supposed to feel like?
I had my moment of jubilation. Inside, I’m all fourth of July and New Year’s and the first day the new Star Wars figures come out, rolled into one.
But today, also? I feel you, Panthers fans.
Good luck next year.
I tried. But right before I posted this, I talked some trash.
Excuse machines on lock
ESPN posted its list of top teams for 2016 – with Carolina, Seattle, and New England at the top. Already.
Sports talk radio here bemoans missed receivers and blown calls. I didn’t get my headphones on in time to block out the excuse machines in the desks around me. It was the refs.
It was a lousy Carolina performance, nothing to do with Denver.
It was bullshit. I get it. It sucks to lose. It Super Sucks to lose a Super Bowl. You don’t win championships with dances. You don’t win them before they’re played.
If you’ll excuse me, I’ll put on a little Oscar De’Leon in my knockoff Sony headphones and revel in a little orange celebration of my own.
Sorry, Panthers fans. Maybe next year.
See not being a huge football, I honestly couldn’t care less. Yes, I did totally watch though, because of the commercials and the food, but still your thoughts are more how I feel at the end of the baseball season. I am hoping this year though I will be able to say I feel sorry for the other team, but secretly be happy that my team finally won the World Series. Still though congrats to the Broncos and glad you had your moment finally with their win last night 🙂
That’s fair. The Super Bowl isn’t everyone’s game. You know what it’s like to lose too, recently, and I think it’s part of it all – I talked to Grace about this. She has six second-place tournament medals!
It was a good moment, and it’s a great feeling to keep inside me as I live here in Carolina.
I actually watched first time ever
I’m a huge fan of sports. I try to avoid parties because I don’t want chit chat. I want to watch a ballgame. Yes, I was half ass rooting for the Panthers.
I get it. Sports get into your blood and soul. Almost like family. Congrats on the W.
I’m with you on the sports fandom, and being selective of who you mingle with – especially for big games, and, for me, big games with your team in it.
I’m there for the game, not the hype, not the commercials, not the halftime show. I kind of hate the Super Bowl. I wish no one cared so we could play the dang-blasted football game.
It’s your blood and soul and sometimes you wish your team will not lose just so you can bypass one heartbreak right now, you know? Although that’s a lousy waste of a title. I’d rather just revel in it than wish for it so hard so you don’t have to deal with the back end of it.
I’m not a big fan of football, but I can understand how disappointing it would be for your team to lose, or how exhilarating it is when your team wins :).
I think the low from losing is greater than the high from winning sometimes, Rhonda!
Awesome post my friend! I’m not a huge sports fan and know very little about it. I watched the game with my son, his girlfriend and my daughter. We could have lost and I’d still be grinning from ear to ear!
Thanks Tiff. When your home team plays in it, it becomes more about civic pride. Winning was the only option for me – and doing so felt more like relief than jubilation at first!
I hope I’ll be able to just revel in it a bit at some point!
The #1 cause of discontent is the gap between what IS and what you’re wishing it was. Continually wanting other than what’s staring you in the face will always bring misery.
Because NC beat my Seahawks, I was rooting for Denver. Happy here!
Thanks for sharing the story about your Dad.
God, don’t I know that, Susan. It’s that struggle to stay in the moment and out of your own head.
I wondered how Seahawks fans would see it – that the team they lost to in the playoffs beat the team they beat two years ago.
Glad to fit my dad into the story, any time. Thanks for coming by.
wonderful, eli. and huge congrats to you )
thanks beth. next year’s the lions’ year, right?
sorry your broncos helmet was stolen 😦 I think I like your orange marker replacement player better. May the tragic demise of the Russian babushka dolls never be forgotten!
Quentin! I’m going to get your email address from your comment. I had it on my other phone – the one that just took a swim in a cup of Pepsi Max.
Orange was definitely less intrusive than a helmet – which was duly returned (I kissed the logo and grossed everything out.)
I wish Seattle’s defense had tumbled like the babushkas.
Bleu blanc et rouge – that would be the Montreal Canadiens in American speak – have won the Stanley Cup 24 times. And made the finals 10 more times were they didn’t get a sip. I have been fortunate enough to see them win it a few times, but not since 1992 – 93 Season and I remember every single overtime game of that incredible run. But 1992 was a LONG time ago now. Soon. Please soon.
But, at least I’m not a Leafs fan. HA!
Isn’t there a chance no Canadian teams will make the playoffs? that’s incredible. Teams called the Ducks and Lightning are thriving, and the old teams like Montreal and Toronto are floundering.
Not that you mind much about the Leafs, Rore.