“Barrel Man” was the Broncos first inductee into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1999 despite Super Bowl appearances and the Orange Crush era.
Might as well get the Elephant in the room out of the way first. I’m no Manning fan, but in my opinion, if the guy took HGH during the lockout AND while he did not have an NFL contract as a free-agent to help recover from multiple neck surgeries, and did it legally, good for him. Football is a violent sport, and athletes are now limited in legal recovery methods because they might contain some sort of NFL banned substance. There are plenty of doctors who prescribe HGH (and other drugs) for non-FDA approved reasons, and one is for injury recovery. Whether it works as prescribed or not is an entirely different argument (as opposed to the now famous Antler Spray, which is essentially snake oil). If you want two sides to the HGH argument, read the conservative WebMD version compared to the HGH-geek info guide.
Is Super Bowl anxiety back in Denver?
In 1977, the Broncos came out of nowhere and finished with a 12-2 record thanks to one of the better defenses of all-time in the “Orange Crush”. The 1977 unit ranks among the top 5 in many metrics. Off the field “Broncomania” was unlike any fan response I’ve ever seen as many locals went so far as to paint houses and cars blue and orange. Regarding the emotions of the Super Bowl,there was much more excitement for the team making the Super Bowl than disappointment for losing the game.
Nine years later in Super Bowl 21, the Broncos, led by John Elway and the AFCs #1 D, were unable to capitalize on their chances (such as failing on 1st and goal at the one on four attempts), while the Giants made plays resulting in Broncos loss #2. Fans entered the game with hope, and brushed themselves off after the disappointing loss.
The following year in Super Bowl 22, there was cautious optimism that Elway’s experience from the previous season would help propel the Broncos to their first victory. The optimism turned into confidence as Denver dominated the 1st quarter, but they could easily have had a larger lead than 10-0. That said, no team had ever failed to win a Super Bowl with a 10-point lead. Then suddenly… BAM. The Redskins scored 35 second quarter points, and the game ended 42-10. Fans were absolutely embarrassed.
Before Super Bowl 24, many Broncos fans wanted their team to lose the AFC Championship game to the Browns and save themselves from further embarrassment. Unfortunately their wish did not come true and their team was completely dismantled by Joe Montana and the 49ers as many predicted. The numb fans never wanted to see their team in the Super Bowl again.
Nine years later, those fears turned to reality as the Broncos made it to Super Bowl 33 against the heavily favored Green Bay Packers. Not only were the Broncos 0-4 with two straight embarrassing losses, but the AFC had lost 13 straight and in mostly blowout fashion. Fear turned to misery as the Packers carved through the Broncos defense for a quick touchdown on the opening drive. However, unlike the team’s responses of the past, the Broncos returned the favor on their next drive. The game ended with a Broncos win, and one of the most exciting Super Bowls at the time.
Super Bowl 34 played like the monkey was off the back of both the Broncos and the AFC, ending in a Broncos blowout. Unfortunately with all of this recent success, “those” fans started coming out of the woodwork.
Elway then retired and their star running back Terrell Davis’s career was cut short due in part to a horse collar tackle. After much turnover with players and coaches, the Broncos finally made it back to Super Bowl 48. Like Super Bowl 24 the game was over early, this time on the first play from scrimmage. The first snap went past an unsuspecting Manning, and into the end zone for a safety. With Manning’s playoff history and Seattle’s aggressiveness, the subsequent mental breakdowns and blowout was inevitable.
Now its Super Bowl 50 and Broncos fans mental state has gone back in time. The team was blown out two years ago, and although their defense has been solidified, their offense is led by a quarterback who can’t run or throw. Their opponent just put up 80 points in two playoff games against two of the NFC’s better defenses.
The Broncos pull into a tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl appearances.
Sure representing the AFC eight times in the Super Bowl is a fantastic accomplishment, but a loss will give the franchise a 2-6 Super Bowl record.