EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Regardless of which team you choose to root for, fans across the NFL can be best described as passionate, enthusiastic, devoted and, most of all, loyal. However, there is another common trait or feeling most NFL fans share at the beginning of a season: hope.

Let me first say this, on its surface, the commitment NFL fans have to their teams despite having no control over the outcome is ludicrous. We’re all crazy for putting ourselves, our spouses who marry into our team’s fraternity, and even our children who are born into it, through the rollercoaster of emotions over 18 weeks in the fall. I guess that’s also the fun of it.

My brother and I ready for a Broncos game in September, 1994

As most people know by now, I am a die-hard Denver Broncos fan. I grew up in Denver and have attended games at Mile High Stadium (I don’t know what name they’re using for that building now, but it’ll always be Mile High Stadium in my book) since I was 3-years-old. I was 9-years-old when they won their first Super Bowl in 1997, lucky enough to have been born before all their Super Bowl losses with John Elway at quarterback… that is before winning back-to-back Super Bowls in ‘97 and ‘98.

As a football fan, I’m realistic about my team, but still I bleed orange and blue to a fault, especially when there’s hope involved.

Behind enemy lines at AT&T Stadium in 2021

Following the Broncos’ latest Super Bowl win and the retirement of Peyton Manning six years ago, Denver’s football team fell on hard times with just one winning-season and too many different starting quarterbacks during that span. I rooted for them to win every week, but realistically, I was never let down when they lost because I didn’t have much hope to begin with (if you’re a Lions fan, you know what I’m talking about).

Insert a quarterback like Russell Wilson (and Ciara) into the picture in Denver (as much as I hated the pain he caused me in the Broncos’ Super Bowl loss to the Seahawks in 2014), and back comes the hope. To be honest, I forgot what it feels like to actually care about the outcome of football games. It’s refreshing, exciting and fun, but also stressful, frustrating and miserable, all at the same time. I sit on the edge of my seat with every play, which is a lot of fun in a win, but no fun in a loss.

Now, hope and expectations aren’t the same thing. I don’t expect the Broncos to win the Super Bowl this year. I came into the season hopeful they would, but realistically, I think it’ll take some time for Wilson to build chemistry with his new team. However, I certainly didn’t expect them to be 2-2 through the first four games of the season with one of the worst offenses in the league to this point (and Denver has had some pretty bad offenses over the course of the last six years).

So, following Denver’s 32-23 loss to the Raiders on Sunday in Las Vegas, I’m left wondering if I was wrong to bring hope into the Broncos 2022 season. I guess I’m hopeful they’ll get it figured out soon (how about this week vs. Colts where yours truly will be in the stands), otherwise I’ve just fallen on false hope, which is the only thing more dangerous than hope itself.

Myself and Hall of Fame safety Steve Atwater at Broncos training camp in 1998
I loved collecting autographs at training camp and Shannon Sharpe was the man
My favorite Broncos player of all-time: Rod Smith
My uncle, grandfather and Broncos legend Billy Thompson at training camp

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