Broncos and the Lessons of Life

How ‘bout them Broncs?! Super Bowl Champs, the top of the football world!

A couple of us from the Chamber staff were in San Francisco last week just prior to the Super Bowl. No, we weren’t there for the big game. We were attending the Annual Conference of the Western Association of Chamber Executives at the nearby San Francisco Airport Marriott. But the buzz of anticipation was palpable, and there were some suspiciously big guys wandering around the lobby, probably current or past NFL players. (Or, maybe they were just suspiciously big guys wandering around the lobby.)

The game itself rarely lives up to the hype and pomp of the modern Super Bowl carnival, and this game was a no exception. Talk about winning ugly! In 50 years of Super Bowls, this has to rank as one of the less glamorous games! Fortunately, football victories are about touchdowns and field goals, not style points. Broncos 24, Panthers 10.

Not to attribute too much deep meaning to a football game, but there are some life lessons here, if you think about it. The biggest one may be that adversity can lead to success. Saying that a 12-4 regular season record is a sign of adversity sounds a touch absurd, but the Broncos set a record this season for close wins. The performance struggles of quarterback Peyton Manning, his late season injury and benching could have undone the Broncos’ season. Not only did Manning buckle down, continue to prepare and work through all of the challenges, his replacement, Brock Osweiler, the special teams, the defense and coaches all elevated their games.

Compare that to their opponents, the remarkable Carolina Panthers. At 15-1, they were arguably the best team in the NFL and quarterback Cam Newton is a rare talent, a force of nature. In the end, however, their easy season left them unprepared for the utterly relentless and immovable Denver defense.  Newton was the king of fun and hubris but when the chips were down so was he. He didn’t have the adversity-tempered resilience to carry the day. If he learns from this, he will take his game to an even higher level.

Another thing is that sports is a big part of civic identity and pride. Admit it: this week you are even prouder to be from Colorado.

Beneath the ugly win – with ‘win’ being the operative word – the lessons of preparation, resilience and teamwork are universal and enduring. The Broncos’ sometimes ugly season and definitely ugly Super Bowl win are beautiful lessons on life.