AFTER THE WHISTLE

It's that time again

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— The Denver Broncos played the Chicago Bears in a preseason football game last night, ushering in another season of professional football.

For me, this is one of the most exciting times of the year despite the fact it is a reminder that summer is almost over. Yes, it's true, there are only a couple weeks of softball left and the hectic high school sports season is just around the corner.

I get excited because I'm a diehard Broncos fan and have been since the days of the Orange Crush defense. I grew up loving players like Floyd Little, Riley Odoms and who can forget Tom Jackson.

It was disheartening to see Craig Mortan lying on his back after getting sacked for the umpteenth time, but the voice of my father saying the Broncos QB was about as exciting as watching grass grow is one of my clearest childhood memories.

Pretty sad, huh?

I still recall the day the Broncos stole John Elway from the then Baltimore Colts, and in return Elway stole the show in Denver.

He wouldn't win a Super Bowl until the end of his career, but watching him play the game was good enough. It wasn't that Elway always won but when he was on the field the fans always knew it was going to be close at the end. That's something that has been missing the past couple of years.

Unfortunately, the love of my life does not share this same undivided love for the Broncos. My wife will tell you that her Bronco-loving husband is one of the worst kinds of football fans. I guess she didn't understand when she married me that "for better or for worse" was referring to the Broncos season.

The problem is that I watch television with a critical eye, hate it when I think a referee or coach made the wrong call, and I have been known to yell at the television set once or twice during a game.

At least once a season, if not once a game, my poor wife has to remind me that it's television and all those little people running around on the field are not actually in the living room with me.

My wife truly dreads the start of football season. This is a woman who hasn't had a cavity since I've known her and thinks going to the dentist is like going to some sort of awards ceremony.

She looks forward to April and the start of tax season the same way my kids look forward to opening presents on Christmas morning.

In fact the only thing I think she truly dreads in the start of the professional football season.

The day her husband transforms (if only once a week) from the guy she married into that creep in the movie theater who just will not shut up until someone beans him in the head with a stale junior mint.

Over the years, however, my wife has tried without success to make me a better person.

She got me to stop yelling at recreation softball games, but is still working on getting me to push the chair in at the table when I'm done eating and to place my dishes in the washer instead of the sink. She had made some progress and in another nine or ten years I might even be a productive member of the community. Don't give up honey.

But I feel she has given up when it comes to football. A few years after we were married she resorted to plan B when it comes to this little personality disorder. We rarely get into a fight, but if we do you can bet it will be about the Broncos.

On Sunday afternoon she heads to the store, a friends house and just about anywhere she can think of not to be around me. When the Broncos lose, she will not talk about it unless it is to remind me that win or lose the Broncos have no real direct impact on my life.

At some point after most Bronco games she will have to tell me that I don't get paid by the Broncos SO JUST LET IT GO.

And believe me when I say I have tried.

During the past several disappointing seasons I haven't really wanted to be around myself when the Broncos play. I've resorted to locking myself in my bedroom,

I've stopped watching some games in favor of more family oriented activities. But I still can't help rushing home to watch the highlights when it's all over, but it's hard to go cold turkey.

Maybe I should seek out some sort of support group, but the only ones I can find are for Green Bay Packer and Dallas Cowboy fans and none of those are really official. I only know one Cowboy fan who will admit she cheers for Dallas and I understand why she might want to seek help.

Anyway, no matter what team you happen to cheer for it's time to start getting excited. Soon the games will count and the season will take on new meaning. Just remember not to yell at the television those guys in black and white stripes can't hear you and they never change their minds anyhow. Now if I can rest remember that the next time I'm watching the Broncos I will be okay.

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