Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Joel here.
It's a rough life being a Denver Broncos fan here in Broncos territory.
I grew up in the heart of Kansas City Chiefs country. Everyone I knew was a Chiefs fan - except my parents, that is. They didn't care at all, so when I asked for a football helmet for Christmas when I was about 7 years old, for whatever reason my parents got me a Broncos helmet, not a Chiefs helmet.
I'm a loyal Kansas City Royals fan and love Kansas State sports, but from that Christmas on, my NFL heart resided in Denver, regardless of what my friends thought.
I took a tremendous amount of grief for this, mostly of my own making. I'm a prideful guy, and when John Elway and my team won, I let everyone know. When they didn't, I got it back tenfold.
I was one of two Broncos fans in my grade school and the only non-Chiefs fan among my high school and college friends. Every year, the Denver vs. KC games left me a nervous wreck in the weeks prior and all too often - when the teams were playing in Kansas City, anyway - a depressed recluse the weeks after.
And that was all before I moved to the Kansas City suburbs for my first job after college. My problems only got worse when I had to listen to Chiefs-centric sports radio hosts babble on the radio all day and harebrained fans call in constantly.
Try listening to 10 callers in a row proclaim Damon Huard a legitimate starting NFL quarterback without having to pull off the highway.
But I moved to Colorado seven months ago. Everything should be fine, now, right?
No. It's not. People still talk trash to me, now assuming I'm a Chiefs fan.
My last months in the Kansas City media market were somewhat sweet, thanks to the Chiefs' nosedive into obscurity. Denver, of course, didn't play particularly well in the past couple of seasons, either, but turning on the radio to a "My-life-is-over" Chiefs caller was like flipping to the cool side of the pillow.
I've watched carefully as everything has unraveled at Arrowhead Stadium. That team is a disaster. Choosing mad-at-the-world running back Larry Johnson instead of the loveably redneck-ish Jared Allen as the team's "face" was pretty stupid, but it actually looked smart compared to the decision to draft Brodie Croyle as quarterback of the future.
I read the Kansas City Star every Monday for a thorough recounting of the Chiefs' Sunday flop, and I confess to take about 98 percent as much joy in their losing as I do in Denver's winning.
But what do I get, finally living now among mostly like-minded football fans? I get grief as people holler out to me, "The Chiefs are terrible!"
People quiz me: "How long have you been a Broncos fan? Six months? Since you drove across the state line?"
Nope. I have the old-school "D" logo Starter jacket to prove that today, when Denver travels to Kansas City, I'm all Broncos.