Tom Ross: Memories aging like old magazines

Fading Bronco glory almost a decade old

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I'm the kind of person who hoards old magazines. It's difficult to part with them. I'd rather throw out a book than throw out a great issue of "American Photographer" or "National Geographic."

I have stacks of magazines stashed under the bed. My back issues of Outdoor Photographer are neatly stored in plastic magazine bins. Another pile of magazines resides in a wooden orange crate that was the first piece of furniture I ever owned. My vintage copies of Rolling Stone are standing upright in an old wooden wine crate.

Periodically, I go through a stack of old magazines and throw a dozen in the recycling bin. But I never discard the year-end issues of magazines such as "Life 1999: The Year in Pictures," or Rolling Stone's yearbook.

I pulled out Rolling Stone's "Millennium Special The Party 2000" this week and got a kick out of reading the predictions made by actors and musicians for the new century.

Not surprisingly, Carlos Santana (a true guitar god) had something cosmic to say: "I would like to see us reconnect the molecules with the lights, so the scientists would know without a doubt the same thing that Einstein knew: that God doesn't roll the dice with creation.

"All of us have the potential that each living cell can be aware of its own divinity."

Far out.

The cover of Life's "1999: The Year in Pictures," was devoted to portraits of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, who died in a plane crash that year.

I'm not certain I would have placed them on the cover of the magazine. It was also the year that thousands of ethnic Albanians died during ethnic cleansing attacks in Kosovo. It was the year of the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado. Already impeached, President William Jefferson Clinton was acquitted by the Senate of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Now that I reflect on it, the year 1999 was a real stinker.

Whenever I pick up one of those year-in-review magazines, I'm stunned to be reminded of the people who died during the preceding 12 months.

In 1999, some celebrated athletes died much too young.

Walter Payton, at the time the all-time NFL rushing leader, died of a rare liver ailment at age 45. Hall of Fame pitcher Catfish Hunter died at age 53. PGA golfer Payne Stuart went down in a private jet. He was only 42. Not to mention Joe DiMaggio and Wilt Chamberlain, who were much older dudes.

But all of that happened a long time ago.

For Denver Bronco fans, there are fresher wounds. How is it that the Broncos flew to Fort Worth, Texas, this week for cornerback Darrent Williams' memorial service instead of traveling to Indy to take on Peyton Manning and the Colts in one more playoff game?

Williams was only 24 when he was shot dead in Denver this week. How can life change so drastically in the span of a few days? Why do I waste my time watching football games?

How long ago was it the Broncos defeated Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers to claim their first Super Bowl Trophy? Was it really nine years ago?

I turned to my special commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated "Super Bowl Champions. The 1997 Denver Broncos" for answers (the Super Bowl was played on Jan. 25, 1998).

Craig Morton and the Broncos were tamed by the Cowboys in Super Bowl XII in 1977. The Giants dumped the Broncos, 39-20, in Super Bowl XXI on Jan. 25, 1987. I can recall a Super Bowl party that day that went from euphoria to disbelief.

It was the Redskins' turn to lay a 42-10 licking on the Doncs in 1988. It only got worse in 1990 when Jerry Rice and the 49ers humbled Denver's team, 55-10.

And yes, it was nine years ago in San Diego that the Broncos upset the Packers, 31-24, for their first Super Bowl win.

Can you recall their names? Of course you remember John Elway, Shannon Sharpe, Rod Smith, Terrell Davis and Ed McCaffrey.

But do you remember Tony Jones, Brian Habib, Ray Crockett, Howard Griffith, Darrien Gordon, Neil Smith and Allen Aldridge?

No, you don't. But that's alright - it was a nearly a decade ago. And somehow, it just wouldn't feel right if the Broncos were playing football this weekend, anyway.

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