9Wants to Know investigator Kevin Vaughan is a serious journalist who also happens to be a lifelong Denver Broncos fan. He’s writing all week about some of his favorite memories from 45 years of following the team.
CHAPTER 6 – Saturday, Feb. 6
There is something generational about sports – loyalties and rivalries, successes and slights, are handed down like heirlooms from one generation to the next.
I’m no different.
Fascinated with sports at a young age even though I was the furthest thing you could imagine from a good athlete, becoming a fan wasn’t a conscious decision but rather the manifestation of nature and nurture, fantasy and experience.
It’s probably why I listened with awe to my dad’s stories about watching the Brooklyn Dodgers in Ebbets Field in the ‘40s, or my uncle Don’s recollections of attending rainy San Francisco 49ers games in Kezar Stadium in the ‘50s. Or even my mom’s memories about listening to baseball games on Armed Forces Radio no matter where in the world she was.
I’m sure it’s how – and why – I came by my allegiance to the Denver Broncos not long after as my family arrived in Colorado in the late 1960s.
I loved the Broncos long before my dad took me to my first game.
And then, in 1998, I was the father taking a son to his first game – an experience I will remember forever. To me, there’s nothing like being in the stadium. I hear people say they’d rather watch a game at home, from a comfortable chair, with easy access to the bathroom and the refrigerator, where eating a hot dog doesn’t require a second mortgage.
But there’s something surreal about joining 75,000 other people and experiencing a game together.
On that day more than 17 years ago, Denver was taking on Kansas City and was in the midst of another magical season – the Broncos were the defending Super Bowl champs, and they were 12-0 as my boy and I climbed to our seats in the very top row of the stands.
When the day ended, we’d seen what would turn out to be the last of John Elway’s fourth-quarter comebacks.
Three years later, I took my younger son to his first game. The New England Patriots were in town, and they were quarterbacked by a young guy filling in for an injured veteran. It was Tom Brady’s fifth professional start, and after getting to the fourth quarter without ever having thrown an interception in the NFL, the Broncos picked him off four times and walked off the field with a 31-20 win.
But while the play on the field may have been the attraction, it was the shared experience that I’ve hung onto all these years, introducing my boys to a spectacle my dad had introduced me to decades earlier. It was no different than the time my daughter, who isn’t a huge sports fan, won two tickets to a Colorado Avalanche game at school. I know she didn’t understand a whole lot about what happened on the ice that night, but I’ll never forget the smile plastered on her face that never waned.
Someday, I hope, history will repeat itself. Someday, I hope, each of my children will be the parent taking the child to their first game.
(© 2016 KUSA)