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Football fans can cheer for players who help the team

January 22, 2012
Messenger News

It would be mean, but you could call me the kiss of death for sports teams.

Look what happened to the Green Bay Packers, the Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans. I figured at least one of them would make it through to the Super Bowl to give me a team to cheer for in the big game, but not one survived to this weekend.

The Packers have been my husband's team of choice forever. Since he grew up in Wisconsin, that seems reasonable. I fell in love with football after a TV interview I watched with Steve Foley and Glenn Hyde of the Broncos back in the mid-'70s. Hyde was offensive tackle; Foley a free safety.

Suddenly football slid from a game big boys played to a game played by guys you'd like to be friends with. At least if you could believe the persona each portrayed in that interview. They didn't brag about being good, but were soft-spoken and sweet. Of course, the Broncos hadn't climbed to Super Bowl greatness yet, either.

We lived in Greeley, Colo., at the time, and the Broncos came to the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley for training camp. Because I sold newspaper advertising, I was out of the office often, and because my territory surrounded UNC, I changed my travel mode to allow gawking time at practice.

That might have been my first - well, my only - crush on a sports star. Couldn't get enough of watching Foley. The game he got hurt and had to spend days in the hospital, I felt as if I couldn't watch even one more football game, all the while feeling just a little sheepish that he had made me such a fan.

Then I heard that while he was hospitalized, thousands of fans sent him cards, with well wishes and prayers for his recovery, and it suddenly dawned on me that I wasn't alone in this fan crush of mine. In fact, I wasn't even the craziest fan out there.

Foley's first interception for a touchdown came against the Packers in 1984, and we were in the stands to watch it - one of the first plays of the game. The very next Green Bay pass, Louis Wright intercepted and ran in for a touchdown.

My husband was not a happy camper. Nor was he happy after the 1997 season when the Broncos beat the Packers in the Super Bowl. I told him I would be happy whoever won, but I lied.

It's harder to be a true fan of a team when you don't know any of the players, so my Bronco cheering dims these days. The Texans earn my fanship because of head coach Gary Kubiak, who wore No. 8 to stand behind John Elway as backup quarterback for the Broncos. He didn't play much, but he was good.

He made the team better because he was a team player. He didn't grab for glory, but worked his best to help the team however he could. That's someone worth cheering.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Sandy Mickelson is the former lifestyle editor of The Messenger. She is retired. She can be reached at



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