There are a lot of things that have changed since I moved to Denver. I don’t tolerate cold very well. I’ve fallen in love with podcasts thanks to long commutes. I spend much more time outdoors. I’ve become accustomed to the fact that people take exits when they’re three lanes over too far to the left.
But one thing that has changed that I never expected – a deepening of my love for the Buffalo Bills. I mean, I live in the heart of Broncos Country. Where orange and blue are practically state colors. Where they even describe one type of sunrise as a “Broncos Sunrise”. Where a Broncos jersey is always appropriate attire, no matter what occasion, no matter what time of year. Where the number 7 is more than just a lucky number. Where I find myself comparing famous musicians to Broncos players to try to describe how awesome they were. Example: “Nadia Boulanger was the Von Miller of composition teachers!”
My first year out here, I was much more interested in following the Broncos than the Bills, even though I’d have said I was still a Bills fan. They were headed to Superbowl 50, it was Peyton Manning’s last season, and who wasn’t rooting for them at that point? My love of football in general was deepening, because discussing what happened each week was an easy way to make conversation with colleagues I didn’t know well. And I was playing fantasy football for the first time with my future in-laws.
Last season, I started wearing Bills gear to school instead of Broncos gear on Football Fridays. I was in 2 fantasy football leagues, and I always looked forward to the Monday lunchroom conversations about how the games went the day before. As far as the Bills go, I loved Sammy Watkins, was always proud of LeSean McCoy, and always got on the emotional roller coaster that comes from having Tyrod Taylor as a quarterback. We made our first visit to LoDo’s in Denver to watch a game with fellow Bills fans, and it was an awesome experience. But Rex Ryan drove me nuts as the coach, and I felt like I could never really be proud of the team.
This season, I went all in. I listened to John Murphy’s broadcast of the draft. I agonized as the Pegulas made the decision to hire a new coach. I cried when they traded Sammy Watkins away. All winter and summer I lived for football season to return. I’m now in 4 fantasy football leagues (and it’s going almost as poorly as you might expect). Several times a week I download the John Murphy show podcasts to listen during my drive to get all the inside info I can on the Bills. I forgot to pay attention to the Broncos news during all of preseason. Every Friday I wear my Bills scarf to school…and every Monday after they’ve won a game. And on Sundays I’m always wearing a Bills shirt, and most Sundays we go to evening church so we can watch the game in the morning (to all those East Coasters – you are so lucky that game times revolve around you!). I still don’t own a jersey – at the start of the season I was going to buy a Watkins jersey until they traded him. Now I’m too scared to pick someone.
This season was the perfect time to go crazy with my love for the Bills. Because on week 3 of the season, the Buffalo Bills hosted the Denver Broncos at New Era Field.
Ever since the schedule was announced, I was waiting for that week.
One of my good friends at school is a giant Broncos fan. Okay, the majority of my work friends are Broncos fans, but this one has her classroom decked out in Broncos gear. We would always swap football notes last season when she’d drop her kids off for recess duty. So I warned her back in the spring that it was going to be a battle that week.
And I don’t forget my promises.
It started with a few printed out signs I put on her door…which she returned to me with a few edits.
The next day, she left this flag on my door.
So I had Von Miller pay her a visit (yes, I went to Wal-Mart and bought this poster for this purpose…and his head angle was perfect for a speech bubble).
He came back with a different message.
Then I stayed late at school for almost 2 hours decorating her room Thursday night after she left, since she gets to school earlier than me.
When I arrived Friday morning, she had a few choice decorations for me, and had substantially altered the decor I left for her.
The best part? Peter and I were invited over to her house to watch the game with their family. It was great to watch a game with other passionate football fans, eat good food, and yell lots at the TV. In the end, the Bills triumphed in an upset victory, and I celebrated by wearing a Bills shirt on Monday.