Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015

The line stretching out in the drizzly Arizona day that leads into the NFL Experience is long. The line of NFL fans wanting a free autograph from Joe Montana winds its way through barriers in an intimidating snake-like fashion. The deluge of people descending on downtown Phoenix is stunning. The NFL is alive and well, despite all signs that it should be folding like a worn-out beach chair under the weight of a 320-pound lineman.

But I am not in the line; I’m just passing by. I’m hurrying to the annual “Commissioner’s State of the Union” after attending a press conference in which Peyton Manning was honored after winning the 2015 Bart Starr Award. It’s a nice piece of hardware, but probably not exactly what he (or anyone in Denver) had in mind back in August. Considering the tumultuous year my buddy Goodell has had, this one will be more fun.

“Commissioner Goodell, most people in America – if they had the year you had – would resign or be fired. Can you think of any set of circumstances in which you would resign or be fired?”

“No, I can’t. Are you surprised by that?”

This was my exchange with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that attracted worldwide attention. After telling the world that he is the Teflon Don of the NFL, Goodell also said it was a humbling year and one in which he had to look deeply at himself. He then explained that the amount of good the NFL has done and is doing basically supplants anything wrong that has happened. He makes $44 million a year. The league makes billions. There are – in my opinion – countless idiots who will pay $28.50 to watch an NFL media day and thousands of others that will wait as long as two hours in line to get Joe Montana’s autograph.

Are you kidding me? These people waiting in line have already paid $38 to get in! This is all to stand in line to get something signed from somebody you don’t know; and he’s 100 years old! Fire Roger Goodell? He should get a goddamn raise!

I guess I’ve become a tad cynical this week. The revelation that the Broncos just gave up is stunning. Demaryius Thomas admitted players were looking past the Colts and didn’t think they could beat the Patriots. The Broncos fired everybody in their building except the chef. Is it possible that the reason the Broncos lost heart (and they did according to T.J. Ward and Chris Harris and quite a few other guys) is because they lost faith?

I mean, let’s face it: The end wasn’t pretty. Jack Del Rio was making goo-goo eyes at Mark Davis with the Raiders. John Fox was slobbering over his buddy Jay Glazer to get the Bears job. Adam Gase interviewed for every gig under the sun except for Arapahoe County dogcatcher. Their Hall of Fame QB refused to make easy runs for first downs and let go of the ball quicker than an ASU coed lets go of her virginity. No wonder there wasn’t any passion amongst the players.

Brandon Marshall of the Broncos couldn’t believe what was happening. He said it seemed Del Rio was into things, but then admitted he was surprised to find himself on the sidelines as his replacement, Todd Davis, allowed big play after big play. The Patriots actually have hats and t-shirts made up with the famous mantra “Do Your Job!” The Broncos not only didn’t do their jobs, but they betrayed the loyalty of their fans. It was disgusting.

This was a team that was humiliated the year before by the Seahawks by 35 points. Where was the fire? This was a team that spent millions on defensive free agents. Where was the production? Instead, you have divas like Julius Thomas strutting around Super Bowl week without a care in the world, knowing he was about to be paid. It made me sick.

I don’t know what in the world would make me stand in a hot, sweaty line for a scribble on a piece of paper, but it’s not about me. It’s about the fans and what they give. They sacrifice their time and their money for inspired play. They deserve so much better. The Broncos came off as a bunch of spoiled brats. When you find all this out and then you hang around organizations like the Seahawks and the Patriots for the week, boy do you see a difference.

John Elway was sick of the situation, so he cleaned house. Are you listening now to your players, John? It’s repulsive to hear these babies whine about what they couldn’t do. Sickening. They reflect the attitude of the true leader of the NFL, Roger Goodell.

“Can you think of any circumstances in which you shouldn’t be back?”

“No, I can’t.”

Sadly, as the year wraps up, that is the lasting message from the commissioner – and ultimately the attitude of the Broncos.

I don’t think they are going to make that into a t-shirt.


Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015

Bill Belichick held hands with his girlfriend as he ambled down a back hallway corridor after winning Super Bowl XLIX. They stopped and got some snacks before getting on the victorious team bus. She was wearing fashionably torn jeans and a custom blue jacket – not a hoodie – with the Patriots and Super Bowl logo on the front. On the back – in a bedazzled, sparkly, cursive font – was the word “Belichick.” She, after all, is his Chick to his Belly.

Belichick himself didn’t wear a “Super Bowl champions” t-shirt, although he had one of those hats. He put on a red New England Patriots t-shirt that had a subtle NEP logo over his right breast. But on the back was an American flag, with the New Hampshire snake logo and the saying, “Don’t tread on me.”

Quiet, but deadly has been his mantra for this suspected cheating dynasty that can be criticized and belittled, but ultimately has come through as the greatest NFL franchise of all-time. How did Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick succeed, winning yet another Super Bowl, with an elderly, non-mobile quarterback when the Broncos couldn’t?

The game-winning play tells the story.

As dumb as it was to not simply hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch, the play should have been, at the worst, an incomplete pass. There had been zero interceptions the entire year on balls thrown from the one-yard line. It simply doesn’t happen. What nobody anticipated was that a rookie would make a play for the ages.

Well, nobody except for Belichick, who had properly prepared his players and that player in particular for that exact scenario.


Championships aren’t won with luck. They are won with aggressive hard work done by men who settle for nothing but excellence day in and day out. Success is a repeatable behavior, but can only be achieved with a heavy dose of courage and risk taking. It’s one thing to talk the talk, but it’s another to walk the path of the Patriots and Bill Belichick.

Belichick, through whatever means necessary, blazes that trail. Sadly, nobody in Denver stepped foot anywhere near it this season.

Belichick may be a cheater, but he didn’t cheat the fans in Denver. The Broncos did that all by themselves.