While I most certainly count myself as a Texan fan, I bleed Bronco orange and blue. I was born and raised near Denver and my family has had season tickets since the 1980s. Living in the Houston area for more than eight years and having liked the Texans from the start, I consider myself to be a huge fan, though they remain my No. 2 team.
Denver and Houston have quite an interesting history together. When the Texans were formed, they borrowed pretty heavily from Denver to get started. Over the years they have shared numerous players and coaches – most notably head coaches. Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips have coached both teams. When the Texans dumped them last year, the Broncos picked them back up and went on to become Super Bowl champions.
When Payton Manning retired, Brock Osweiler was set to take over as the Broncos quarterback of the future. The Texans, however, had other plans and lured him away. You can bet Osweiler will be the target of a very focused and angry defense when the teams meet Monday in the Mile High City.
A lot has been said about Osweiler’s defection to the Texans. I’d say $72 million was a good reason to go. Denver could have matched it and kept Osweiler in orange, but they had other economic issues to deal with, primarily former Texas A&M Aggie Von Miller. The Super Bowl MVP threatened to sit out the last year of his contract unless the Broncos renegotiated. The Broncos kowtowed to his demands to the tune of a six-year, $114.5 million deal.
I’d like to examine the impacts of that deal for a minute. Before the ink was dry on the paper Miller signed, pundits were agog at how Miller made the mighty John Elway blink. As a quarterback, Elway led the Broncos to five Super Bowls and two championships. As general manager he has led the team to two more Super Bowls and another championship.
There are huge differences between Elway and Miller. As a player, Elway was often forced to carry the team on the strength of his passing arm. It didn’t take him long to learn and understand that football is a team sport and it takes more than a really good quarterback to win championships. He voluntarily restructured his contracts, taking less money and extending payments to free space under the salary cap to allow Denver to surround him with better players. The result was back-to-back titles.
Miller had just the opposite perspective. He got greedy. Rather than honoring a contract, he threatened to sit out. Rather than being committed to the team and to winning, he looked out only for himself. He forced the Broncos to bow to his demands. As a result, he got the money, but he’ll probably never play in another Super Bowl again.
The Broncos will not be able to afford the players necessary to field a championship team during his tenure. They are also led by a player who put his own interests above that of his teammates. Believe me, that attitude will affect in the way they perform as a team. Greed and envy are contagious and corrosive. Although Osweiler was lost to the Texans before the Broncos negotiated with Miller, Elway had to clearly know that he would have to choose between the two. There’s no way he keeps both for the money they were demanding.
Based on their performances so far this season, I think Elway kept the better player. Unfortunately it came at a very steep price. It will be very interesting to see how the two fare when they meet on the playing field. Not only will Osweiler be facing a formidable foe on the gridiron, but he will be battling the noise of 76,000 jilted fans. Trust me, the stadium will be exceptionally loud every time he takes a snap.
Broncomaniacs are hardcore, unforgiving and relentless with betrayers. I’ve seen it many times. I’ve been a part of it. I will be again in my own way in my own living room. It’s the only time I’ll root against the Texans. Admittedly though, it’s getting harder to do, especially after the comeback victory Sunday over the Colts. I’ve never been this closely bonded to a No. 2 team.
With the Super Bowl coming to Houston this year, it is my hope – my dream – that one of these two teams is playing in it; winning it. That’s still months away. Monday night is all that matters for these two teams now. Our Texans and my Broncos – woo-hoo!