I am not a cruel person by nature. I like to get along with people. I like to be liked (whether I achieve this goal is another story, but that's not the point). I like to make people laugh, not yell. I like to think of myself as a pretty amiable guy.
This attitude bleeds into my views on division rivals. I've just never been able to summon up that pure, unadulterated hatred so many of us have for the Raiders. I've never quite been able to despise the Chargers in the manner fitting of a Chiefs fan. And I've never learned to really disdain the Broncos with the passion that comes so naturally to many here.
I guess I didn't see the point. I have never really ROOTED for a division rival to lose out of spite.
But I'm getting ahead of myself here. This column isn't about hating the Broncos. It's not even about hating Broncos fans. I still don't. In fact, I ALMOST decided not to write this just because of the heat I might take for it from those who bleed orange and blue (Ick. I mean come on, who wants to bleed orange? It's just gross, amirite?).
But this story needs to be shared. Because 2012 sucked for Chiefs fans. It was, for me, the most disheartening year I've ever experienced as a fan. Never, ever, ever has the result on the field been so far beneath my expectations. Never have I been so embarrassed by this team. The wins (even moral wins) were so few and far between I grew numb to disappointment as the season wore on. I know from my time here on AP that feeling is shared by many.
We all needed a win. And Saturday, I got one for us.
I'm the reason the Denver Broncos choked themselves out of the AFC Championship game. True story.
Let's go back in time. All the way back to the week preceding the Chiefs second matchup with the Broncos (all several of those weeks ago). As is well documented here, the Chiefs were coming off a loss to the Colts in which they had rushed for around three miles, and the Broncos had won something like 37.5 games in a row. AP member NigerianNightmare, as being the kind soul he is, wrote an "Ask a Chiefs fan" post on Mile High Report, the SB Nation Site covering the Broncos.
Looking back now I realize that fate was already at work. See, I rarely go onto those threads -- let's face it, I spend too much time on Arrowhead Pride as it is. But for some unknown reason (well, unknown at the time), I was drawn to the thread. I went there not to talk smack, but to talk football. I knew the Broncos had been winning and playing well, so I wanted to ask about their team and get some outside perspective on our own. Like I said, I've never been big on hating division rivals or their fans. So I figured, "Why not?"
What I didn't know is that solid, rational football discussion was not to be on that thread. In its place was a strange game in which the apparent goal was to find the most unoriginal and unfunny way to bash the Chiefs. Bonus points seemed to be given to any member who could claim to be objective about the Broncos while simultaneously claiming they were the greatest team since... well, the last Broncos team to win the Super Bowl. I didn't know how to survive in this strange game, and unfamiliar with the rules I attempted to penetrate the veil of competition with objective debate. All such attempts were met with condescension, mockery, and even anger.
Those who were playing the game (let's call it "Bromerism" for lack of a better term. Yep, Bronco Homerism. I'm back to inventing words) did not want to talk about football in any rational term. Rather, they took it upon themselves to explain to me that Peyton Manning will be great for the next 4-5 years. That their team would be a 10-6 team even without him( 'cuz they're just that solid, yo). That their defense is top three in the NFL. That Champ Bailey is still a shutdown CB. That Von Miller is a rich man's Derrick Thomas (I admit, that dude can ball). That Derrick Johnson is a poor man's Wesley Woodyard (that one got under my skin). And most of all, that the Chiefs are destined to suck for at least another 3-4 years, no matter what. If I attempted to disagree with any of those points (or others like them), I was derided as a Chiefs homer and an idiot. It was... not fun.
As I sat there, wondering where it all went wrong, something changed in me. Suddenly, I stopped being indifferent about the Broncos' season. I stopped not caring about any scoreboard without the name "Chiefs" on it.
I found myself, for the first time in my life, actively rooting for another team's demise.
I didn't want it quick and easy, either. No, I wanted it to hurt as badly as my own pain (in retrospect, there's a slight chance I was still a tad bitter about how this season went down). I wanted Broncos fans to really, genuinely, truly get their hopes up that THIS WAS THEIR YEAR... and then have it just snatched away from them. But how? After all, that's a solid team over in Denver. And they've got the immortal Fivehead leading the way. How could this juggernaut possibly be stopped?
Fast-forward a few weeks to Saturday night. The Broncos and Ravens are playing in Denver, with the Broncos as heavy favorites. When Trindon Holliday returned the Ravens' opening drive punt for a TD, you could feel the euphoria. When Demaryius Thomas ran in for the go-ahead TD... pandemonium. When the Broncos defense did their job (with a little non-call help from the officials) and got Fivehead the ball back, you could feel Denver sit back and start to relax.
But the moment I knew my time had come was when Ronnie Hillman rushed for 8 yards and a first down with just a shade over 2 minutes remaining. Broncos fans had finally reached that point. They felt like it was over.
And I will be the first to tell you... it WAS over.
But as I said, my time had come. My time to get one last shot in for beaten up and beaten down Chiefs fans everywhere. My time to make a fanbase that held my team in such contempt (nope, I don't care if they deserve it) feel what it's like to have the rug yanked out from under them. Time to unleash the most dreaded power in all of sports. A power so terrible that many are afraid to use it, lest it turn and destroy the soul arrogant enough to try and tame it.
I knew not just any jinx would do. It wouldn't work to just tell my wife the game was over. No, this game was too far gone for such amateur-hour nonsense. Even a more concerted effort like calling one of my Bronco fan buddies and saying, "So, you worried about Brady?" would be insufficient to rip this game out of the Broncos' clawed hands (yep, a clawed Bronco. Work with me here). No, I had to do the unthinkable. I had to reach out and touch (dirty?) as many Broncos' fans as possible (yeah, that definitely sounds dirty. Another example that context matters). I had to sacrifice myself at the altar of dignity to appease the football gods in a manner worthy of this level of jinx.
So I cracked my neck, set my jaw, and headed back to the dark land of Mile High Report's gameday thread. There, in the heart of enemy territory, I laid the trap that would set the jinx in motion, posting...
... and I waited. You see, for such an epic jinx to have its effect, it would take even more than my dignity. It would take more than one lone fan of an opposing team to bring down the Broncos. For a jinx at this level, with a game this over, I needed an additional sacrifice to the football gods. And it had to be a Broncos fan. Nothing else would do. Less than a minute later, my evil goal was realized when this comment appeared...
And with that reply, made by some poor, unwitting soul who was nothing more than a pawn in a scheme he couldn't possibly comprehend, it was over. The "division-rival-fan double sacrifice jinx" was complete. Another Bronco fan, clearly aware of the danger, attempted to counteract the jinx by saying it wasn't over. But once such a a jinx has been released, nothing can stop it. Even I wouldn't have been able to do so (not that I ever would. I'm just saying... it's super-powerful and stuff).
With the jinx complete, there was nothing left to do but watch its power in action. John Fox's decision to go hyper-conservative and run the ball three times (despite the presence of Peyton freaking Manning), giving the ball back to the Ravens. Junior Colquitt's uncharacteristically poor punt. Those were merely the jinx warming up and stretching its muscles.
Now ready to unleash its might, the jinx stretched out its hand...
I'm sure Rahim Moore is a perfectly nice guy. He just (much like that poor MHR user) got caught up in something he was powerless to resist. The Jinx temporarily erased Moore's awareness of what it is a safety is supposed to do with 30 seconds left and a 7-point lead in the NFL, and he allowed Jacoby Jones to scamper behind him. The Jinx also caused him to lose all depth perception and jump for the ball a full second sooner than he should have. Denver's CB was similarly affected, as a ball he should have been able to catch up with somehow, some way, ended up beyond his reach as though he were being held back by invisible forces (he was).
The Jinx wasn't done with the Broncos yet, though. This was a Jinx truly born in the deepest pit of Hell. It paralyzed John Fox and made him choose to kneel the ball (despite having 30 seconds, two timeouts and yes, Peyton freaking Manning). It teased Bronco fans by allowing their defense to get not just one, but TWO stops in overtime. It teased them even more (seriously, at this point I was starting to feel a tad guilty. I got over it very quickly, though) by letting the Denver offense show signs of life, picking up two first downs and getting a solid four yard gain to their own 38 on their next play, setting up a second and 6...
Then the Jinx revealed itself in all its power. It showed itself to be superior to even Peyton freaking Manning, causing him to panic in the face of a pass rush and lose all sense of identity. Totally under the spell of the jinx and believing himself to have suddenly morphed into a mobile QB, Manning tried to force the ball into tight coverage while on the run.
So there you have it. The real story of what happened to the Broncos this year. It wasn't Fox. It wasn't Manning. It wasn't even Moore or the "magic" of Ray Lewis (hey, did you hear that Ray Lewis was maybe playing his last game? Just making sure you caught that). It was one fan, a MNchiefsfan to be precise, that destroyed the Broncos run for glory by setting in motion what shall from this day forward be known as "The Minnesota screwjob." (that nickname may not catch on. I'm welcome to suggestions).
Your move, Elway.