Film, Photography, Music, and Literature by Joaquim Baeta

The Sunsets are Orange, and I Still Don't Care

I
stopped supporting the Denver Broncos when Josh McDaniels was fired, supported the St. Louis Rams when he coached for them, and now support the New England Patriots. I also wished for professional success for certain players (e.g. Kyle Orton, Knowshon Moreno, Brandon Lloyd), but only wished for team success when they went to new teams. My NFL philosophy, now, is more about rooting for individuals instead of teams. Consequently, I have the contradictory task of rooting for the Pats (McDaniels), Miami Dolphins (Moreno), and Buffalo Bills (Orton). (In other words, everyone but the Jets.)

I realise admitting I'm a McDaniels supporter makes me look crazy to many Broncos fans, or those who perceive him as a sleeper agent sent by Bill Belichick to destroy the Broncos. In the first year after his firing, I got into a fair amount of arguments with them, but then, I've resisted responding to thoughtless jabs at the former. Today, though, I was spurred into thinking about the events that led up to why I quit on the team I loved so much, and realised I've never written (in detail, anyway) about one of the catalysts. I thought today, with the 2014 NFL season officially underway, would be a good one to revisit the day I quit on the Broncos.

Jake Plummer

Jake Plummer was my favourite Bronco by far when he was their QB, and even though they lost the AFC Championship game in the 2005 season, I always felt that was a magical season. Not only was Champ Bailey the best defender in the world that year, but Jake the Snake epitomised the creativity and excitement that I loved about football. He was the opposite of the sterile Peyton Manning of the world, and lacked spoilt persona NFL QBs tend to have.

Following that 2005 season, however, Jay Cutler was drafted, and the inevitability of Plummer's departure was all but written in stone. When the 2006 season started with Cutler on the bench and Plummer still starter, I convinced myself that maybe things would be okay. As it should be, the rookie would learn under the veteran, and Jake the Snake would once again get to lead the Broncos to the playoffs. That wasn't meant to be.
Broncos fans have always had a weird relationship with QBs. When you have John Elway for two decades, it becomes hard to see any successor without Elway colouring your view. Plummer couldn't escape Elway's shadow. When Cutler was drafted (he with the arm stronger than Elway's... or so they say), Plummer had Elway hanging over him, and a cannon-armed rookie tugging at his jersey. And then, with every game—and most crucially after two games in a row were lost—Broncos fans and media started clutching that jersey harder and harder. People didn't want Plummer anymore. Mike Shanahan, for all his power in Denver, couldn't resist. He benched Plummer, and the season died with Jake the Snake's career.