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Denver Broncos: Manning Curse? 
Posted on October 24, 2021 at 04:39 PM.
I remember like it was yesterday, October 12th-20th of 2004. I was 19, still learning about sports history as I spent more time playing sports video games, rather then watching them. I had a good reason as to why I didnt watch sports very much. My ADHD didnt allow me to have the patience to sit and watch an entire game of anything up to that point. October 12th, I was introduced to the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. I knew the teams hated each other, but beyond that I learned about the curse of the Great Bambino.

I felt so bad for Red Sox nation, 80+ years with no championship...I couldnt even fathom it. I was less than 3 years removed from my Hockey team winning a championship, 7 years from my football team. I was lucky up to that point to have witnessed two teams I love win it all, while there were some people that went an entire lifetime without seeing a team they loved so much, never regain their glory.

Let me get it out of the way to start, I am a Broncos fan. Saying that pre 2015 was nothing to scoff at. Sure, we had some bad teams/players/years, but the history of the franchise is what kept the snickering to a minimum. Sure, we were blown out every big game we ever attended until 1997-98, but still we had the identity of being one of the most successful franchises in the NFL.

I was spoiled, rarely ever seen the Broncos not make the playoffs, or be able to turn it around if that did indeed happen. Gosh, once Elway left, I thought for sure it was going to be a bad stretch. The team hung in there, either barely made even, or had a few wins to check mark a winning season. We had the likes of Jake "The Snake" Plummer behind center, drafting Smokin Jay, (and I still argue he would have been better in Denver if McDaniels didnt run him out of town) churning out unknown backs into 1,000 yard beasts. It was ok to have a break even, or slightly bad year, someone had an idea to turn it around the following season.

Josh McDaniels ruined my franchise, there...I said it. However, if you had asked me what I thought of Denver hiring him the day it happened? I was ecstatic. I thought he was what Cutler needed, someone to help him break out, like he helped Brady. I will never forget April 2nd, 2009 in Orange City, Iowa, having my phone go off with the ESPN ticker theme and the words "CUTLER TRADED TO CHICAGO"

At that moment, i thought my team was done...

Bad years came, two 8-8 seasons and a dreaded 4-12. It was rough watching the team, nothing had prepared me for that up to that point in my football life.

2012 rolled around, watched the Colts tank the year before to get Luck, and Manning was let go. Manning being released instantly reminded me of OS forums complaining about top tier QB's being let go in Madden franchise, and how it was unrealistic.

But it happened!

Lets set the record here, pre 2012...I HATED MANNING. I respected the HELL out of the man, and what he was able to do pre-snap. i always caught myself yelling at the tv "HIKE THE DAMN BALL ALREADY!" Always irritating watching him just take a quick glance, then spend 5-10 seconds moving guys around, and calling out pre-snap blocking assignments/alerts. To this day, I called him a human computer, I had never seen a guy know so much by simply taking a quick glance. Why did he need a QB coach? Why did he need to look over at that time the paper print outs of the play before? It wasnt needed. He knew if he messed up, or if a WR ran the wrong route. He knew if he under threw or over threw a guy. He knew what the coverage was and where he should have went.

Its been said his preparation was second to none. Laying in a tub of cold water, or the hot tub with papers (and later a tablet) in hand studying, and learning as much as he could. I hated him for all of it. He always picked Denver apart, right up to the point where I asked myself why even sit and watch the game? You know hes just gonna frustrate you.

The story made the round around facebook that Manning had his select teams in mind, Tennessee being one of them, and Denver being another, with others named as well. "Experts" made a strong point when they talked about his connection to the state of Tennessee, as well as his wife. I often fantasized what it would have been like to have him in Denver, quickly to shake it off and remind myself, he wont want to play where its cold.

I never let my friends know of my true thoughts, it was always "HES COMING TO DENVER!" only to hide when someone brought up a valid point as to why, which lead me to add it to my list as well.

March 20th, 2012 came. It was a week before my birthday, and I really wasnt looking forward to it. I was turning 27, and I was constantly reminding myself I only had 3 years until the dreaded year that I turned 30. I was terrified to turn 30. (Not sure why this makes any sense to this writing, but it was a constant thing on my mind.) I turned on my Directv as I had blocked all ESPN notifications at this point on my phone, I didnt want to be doing something fun, only to get the news as to where Manning ended up. I got it on ESPN, and was checking the ticker. It ran across the screen, "Manning-Broncos reach agreement-Details to follow" I called foul, didnt believe it. My wife came out into the living room, "Hey, the Broncos got Manning". I didnt know wither I should have been happy, or sad.

All the years of Manning dismantling my team really ran deep. Like i said, I respected the the guy, but didnt know how to feel about him playing for my team. I will admit it like a man, and threw it out the window after the first year, with Denver going 13-3. It reminded me of the Elway era. Offense was smooth, explosive, and could never really be counted out until the clock hit zero. Football was exciting, and it was always safe to assume you would make the playoffs.

With the heartbreak against the Ravens, and then the return to form of the true Broncos in the superbowl with the Seahawks, I was scared. It would be a foolish thing to waste an opportunity when you have a franchise QB at the end of his rope. Myself, along with other close fans I grew up with really thought he was gonna bow out without another title. Soul crushing defeat is what I felt as a fan, but at that time I knew things would be ok, I mean they always had been, right? Whenever the franchise seemed down and out, we rebounded.

Rebounded indeed, 2015 Superbowl champs, felt SO good to walk around the tri-city area that bordered Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. I wore my colors proudly, Championship hats, shirt, seeing Raider fans, and making sure I show them who ruled the AFC west. It was a bittersweet thing, something I can share with my kids as they grow older, and a sense of relief that 4 of my 5 kids got to see the Broncos win a superbowl...or I hope they can remember as they were really young.

6 years have seemingly flown by, and this is how my story comes full circle. Remember how I felt about watching the Red Sox break the curse? How bad and heartfelt I described in my feelings for that fan base?

What if the Broncos are cursed? What if this becomes the norm? Dramatic? Maybe...

Hear me out, I know I went through pretty much an entire life story, but I felt it was needed, warranted to justify how I feel about the current state of my team and what lead up to it.

Written multiple times throughout this, I mentioned how the team always rebounded. The late Pat Bowlen wouldn't take a losing season, just wouldn't have it. God rest his soul, hes not around, the team is at an impasse, and nothing seems to be getting better. Not even the man himself, John Elway could turn this team around. No Jake plummer to turn it around, no Kyle Orton to stop-gap, and no shock factor in Tim Tebow to sorta rejuvenate the team a little. Every QB i am told to get excited about, is terrible. Every coach, every free agent...nothing.

Doomed is the word most commonly written word in Broncos forums, and facebook replies. Hope is what I am given each offseason when Broncos fan shows and sometimes ESPN gloat about how Denver should turn it around this year. let down has been the theme, a theme that has grown to now 6 years...the longest streak of losing seasons in broncos history. It was rough enough to sit here and type that, but to live it? Terrifying to say the least.

I fear for this franchise. No offense, but I dont want to become the Lions, Browns, Dolphins, etc etc. Rude to think, but we are a proud franchise, and thats not to say others are not, but we are not used to losing. I know that sounds like a selfish rich kid, but its the truth.

I just cant shake the feeling that this drought is going to continue. This dreaded "Manning curse" could very well balloon into the next curse of the great Bambino. 70 years from now, after im gone, there could be someone in my shoes looking back at Broncos history, and how it all fell apart.
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