I’ve been on this planet for 30 years now, and in my 30 trips around the sun, I’ve learned two things to be true:
1) If you work in an office, or live in an apartment, and you’ve ever called to report a problem, only to be patched through to a maintenance guy — chances are you’ve been on the phone with someone while they’re taking a shit.
2) The Denver Broncos are the most annoying team in the NFL.
I’m biased, of course. As a Chiefs fan I’ve been trained to hate the Broncos, the seeds planted at a very early age, which have now sprung forth a rather large tree. One bearing very little fruit, but capable of throwing a healthy amount of shade. And much like the inconvenienced maintenance worker, I’m too old and stuck in my ways to ever think about changing.
It’s inherent, my hatred. But the Broncos, over the past three decades, have just made it so damn easy. And it starts with their quarterbacks. I’d wager that no team throughout my NFL fandom has trotted out a cavalcade of annoying asshole after annoying asshole quite like they have in Denver.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look.
John Elway (1983-1998)
Now this. THIS is an asshole. Just look at him. He’s the face of the franchise. Which is fitting, because he’s got the face of a guy who brings Cialis to his referral network meetings. After graduating from Stanford with a degree in economics, Elway decided to go professional in something other than corporate embezzlement: being a complete prick. He was famously drafted first overall by the Colts in 1983, then did what anyone with an asshole’s pedigree would do. He threatened to quit and go play for the Yankees.
Though we all know what happened next. He got his wish, was traded to Denver, and became legendary early on for his performances in the clutch — provided you don’t consider “winning Super Bowls” clutch. After losing his first three attempts at the Lombardi Trophy, it looked like his biggest career accomplishment was going to be catalyzing a series of events that would lead to the complete downfall of civilization in northeast Ohio.
But no. The Broncos would fall ass backwards into one of the best running backs in NFL history, and Elway finally got his Super Bowl title. Two of them, for good measure: one for his mantle, and one to hollow out and use as a dip cup. He’s now in charge of football operations for the Broncos, and he’s comfortable in his own skin, a skin that can barely hold in the tequila shooters anytime a Van Halen song is played.
Brian Griese (1999-2002)
If Elway was the party, Griese was waking up to find out someone peed in your fridge. He never was able to accomplish much during his time in Denver, though that’s pretty much the mark of a good Michigan Man: four years of nothing but talking about this sweet job your dad has lined up for you later.
Jake Plummer (2003-2006)
“The Snake” was the owner of the coolest nickname in football, and part of some actually competent Broncos teams (they made the playoffs in three of his four seasons), though he’d eventually be usurped by Jay Cutler. Broncos thing aside, I actually don’t have much of a problem with Plummer. He quit football to go play handball on a ranch in Idaho, and was actually living out my dream before I even knew what it was.
Jay Cutler (2007-2008)
He didn’t really come into his own until he got to Chicago, so the Cutler years in Denver were nothing but mediocre teams clouded in scrutiny — either whether or not he was ready to take over for Plummer, or whether or not he was elite, or whether or not he was gonna get Mike Shanahan shitcanned. If there’s one thing the Broncos do right, it’s a media circus level of institutional control.
Kyle Orton (2009-2010)
This guy was actually a starting quarterback. For TWO SEASONS. From Plummer, to Cutler, to Orton, the Broncos spent the better part of a decade exuberating a level of pacifism even the Swiss thought was a bit much.
Tim Tebow (2011)
Never heard of him.
Peyton Manning (2012-present)
And here we are. Present-day Denver is the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and they’re led by the elite-iest of the elite, a guy systematically programmed for football and hawking refried cardboard. The hopes and dreams of a city, nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, rest on the arm of a guy who’s never really played that well in the cold. But don’t tell him that, or he’ll refer you Denver faithful to the place where you used to hide your weed.