Yep, it's official -- I'm back. Ask anyone standing within a 3-block radius of my apartment Sunday afternoon -- they all heard the screams. Either I'm back on the Broncos bandwagon or there was a triple homicide in my apartment.
I know, I know, I never should have left. I should have been stronger than that. But you know what? After a lifetime of fanhood, a post-Elway decade of mediocrity, and an offseason in which we lost our coach, lost our quarterback, and gained Kyle Orton, I needed a break.
To be honest, I felt used. I felt betrayed. I gave the Broncos my heart and soul, and they gave me Josh McDaniels.
What really sealed the deal for me was a conversation I had with a friend of mine. And by "friend of mine," I mean the complete stranger vacuuming the carpet outside my office:
Vacuuming Stranger (noticing the Broncos hat on my desk): Hey man, are you a Broncos fan?
Vacuuming Stranger: What the hell happened?
I stared at him blankly for probably ten seconds. I had no response. This complete stranger had just summarized the entire Broncos offseason in four words, and I was speechless.
And even though I had suffered through the Brian Griese and Jake Plummer eras, this was more than I could handle. I may not be the expert on fanhood, but I know that when a total stranger questions the offseason decisions of your football team while vacuuming your office, it's time for break.
So I took a break. No Broncos hats, no Broncos jerseys, and no Super Bowl XXXII reruns on ESPN (that one hurt the most). In fact, I couldn't talk about the Broncos for months -- it was too painful. And when Jay Cutler came to Denver for a nationally televised preseason game, I couldn't watch -- it was still too soon. And even when the Broncos tip drilled their way to a week one victory, I still couldn't get behind the team. They had put me through too much. I just couldn't get involved again.
So when I sat down to watch the Broncos-Cowboys game on Sunday, I hardly expected to emerge with my fanhood renewed. Sure I would watch, but only because it was on, not because I cared. Or so I told myself.
But then Brandon Marshall danced his way into the end zone, Champ Bailey swatted away the tying touchdown, and before I knew it, I was back. (Quick aside: How great was it to see Wade Phillips lose a game in Denver for the other team? It took him 15 years, but Wade Phillips finally helped the Broncos win a football game. It was great to see you Wade -- come back any time.)
Now just to be clear, I still don't love Kyle Orton, and it's going to take me a while to trust the man whose offensive system supposedly works better with Matt Cassel than Jay Cutler. But after Sunday's performance, I'm ready to give the Broncos another chance.
I know the next few weeks won't be easy. In fact, with the next four games against the Patriots, Chargers, Ravens, and Steelers, 4-0 could quickly become 4-4. But whatever happens, count me in. And you know what? If Brandon Marshall keeps catching passes, Champ Bailey keeps shutting down receivers, and Kyle Orton doesn't shave, 4-0 could just as easily become 8-0.
Huh -- an 8-0 Broncos prediction -- now that's fanhood.
Follow Ari Shapiro on Twitter: www.twitter.com/shapiro_ari