DENVER—They are Broncos Sidelines Nuts who gathered 45 strong from 20 states with heavy hearts for their popular leader.
Four years ago, Armin Trevor Latham – remember those initials – started a Facebook page called Broncos Sideline Nuts. It’s a chat group where people can weigh in about their Broncos.
There are dozens if not hundreds of Bronco fan pages connected through social media, but to feel the compassion of this group that was tailgating Sunday morning in Lot C of Sports Authority Field at Mile High before the game against the Atlanta Falcons is to know this group is unique.
“They don’t argue with each other,’’ said Becky McKernan, wife of the late Barrel Man who is a member of several Bronco fan groups, including the Nuts. “There’s no drama about it. They love each other so much. It’s all positive.’’
Latham, who grew up in Wheat Ridge but had moved to Northern California, recruited people to his site. He recruited people based on their social media comments.
“Armin selected us,’’ said Jeff Clark of Rochester, N.Y. “We talked in our fan groups and he decided we were the kind of fans that he wanted in his group.’’
”He wanted only the positive Bronco fans to come in and be Nuts,’’ said Matthew “Coach” Matthew Retundie. “There wasn’t any logistical barriers. It wasn’t just for locals. He brought in everybody from around the country, even one globally (Lisa Utterson of Australia).
“The goal was to keep everybody tight throughout the country who were Bronco fans. When the Broncos travel we always know someone who can take care of each other, as family would. And it grew. Right now we’re covering 20 states. It was all his idea and it grew from there. It grew into a family.’’
On Jan. 22 – two days before the Broncos’ AFC Championship Game victory against New England -- Latham was driving home from a sonogram appointment for his wife Anastacia – she goes by “Stacey” -- when he was involved in an accident on a California road. Armin, 40, died as a result from injuries suffered in the accident, while Anastacia, who was three months pregnant at the time, was seriously injured to the point she was hospitalized for an extended period and has since undergone multiple surgeries. Their nearly 2-year-old son Roderick, who was in a child’s safety seat in the back, received minor scratches.
“It was very tough for us as a group, but while it hurt us initially, it brought us closer together,’’ said Retundie, who lives in New York City and is now running the Nuts page. “And we honor Armin even more because we thank him. He brought us all together and now we have Stacey. And we want Stacey and her kids to be taking care of. She’s family.’’
On July 1, Stacey gave birth to her and Armin’s second son, Michael Trevor.
“They didn’t think I was going to make it let alone Michael,’’ Stacey said. “But he’s a miracle. He’s healthy and he’s perfect. You would have never have known.’’
There was a Broncos’ theme to Armin’s funeral in California. Several of his Nuts came in from all parts of the country to attend.
“He was amazing,’’ Stacey said. “He was my rock. He was sarcastic and he wasn’t afraid to tell you the truth. He was fun – he just wanted to make sure everyone around him was having fun first.’’
For their annual trip in 2016, Retundie looked at the ATL in Atlanta -- and in Armen Trevor Latham – and instantly knew this would be the game in which the Nuts would gather. It was also the first time since the accident that Stacey would gather with their group. Joe Holt came in from Seattle. Petra Anderson was here from Houston. They stayed at the homes of the local Nuts. McKernan had five people stay at her house Saturday night.
There were 45 Nuts who had dinner at Washington Park Grille on Saturday night and then they arrived a good five hours before their beloved Broncos kicked off against the Falcons. The game didn’t as the Nuts had hoped – the Broncos lost to Atlanta, 23-16 – but the weekend was therapeutic for Stacey.
“This is the first time I’ve seen her smile in months,’’ said Justina Burciaga, Armin’s cousin.
“Since the accident we’ve become closer than we were when he was here,’’ Stacey said. “They’ve adopted me. They’ve been there for me. They’ve been there for my boys and they’ve become a second family to me, they’ve been amazing.’’
Michael, who Justina said was a splitting image of Armin, doesn’t realize this, yet, but he was given Nuts membership at birth.
“Mike will become the best Broncos fan,’’ Retundie said. “We’re constantly sending him things. We’re going to treat him like our own son. If he lived closer to New York City, I’d adopt him. But we’re going to be taking care of Michael very well.’