Let’s face it: In Denver, we’re obsessed with sports.
Maybe it’s our love of the outdoors or that eternally competitive spirit that burns inside us which drives us to the arenas and stadiums. Whatever it is, we love our teams. And over the last 12 months, there have been too many magnificent story lines to name, but we’ll break down a highlight list for you.
1. Broncos lose to Ravens in playoffs
Call it an epic, or an epic fail; the Broncos – Ravens double overtime playoff tilt was an instant classic. Denver, which was 13-3 through the 2012 regular season, earned the AFC’s No. 1 seed and was the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl. The Baltimore Ravens ended those dreams. With the Broncos leading by a touchdown, Joe Flacco uncorked a bomb, which floated over safety Rahim Moore’s head and into Jacoby Jones’ hands. Jones trotted into the end zone to tie the game up, and after an unproductive first overtime period, Peyton Manning threw an interception across his body to set Baltimore up with the game-winning field goal. To make matters hurt worse, the Ravens went on to become NFL champions.
2. Roy hired to coach Avs
Could there be a more perfect coach for Colorado’s hockey team? Patrick Roy, the star goaltender of the Avalanche’s two Stanley Cup victories, came back to the Mile High City to coach his former team. Roy’s firey leadership has worked well; the Avs are off to a strong start.
3. Broncos sign Welker
Like Roy to the Avs, John Elway has been a boon for the Broncos. Elway went out an got Peyton Manning in the 2012, then turned around a year later and landed Wes Welker – the greatest slot receiver in the history of the league – for his four-time MVP to toss it to. Manning and Welker have hit it off; the receiver’s 10 touchdown receptions are a new career-high.
4. Helton Retires
If there were a Mount Rushmore of Denver sports stars, Todd Helton’s mug would be up there representing the Colorado Rockies. Helton played his entire 17-year Major League Baseball career at first base inside Coors Field—one of the few men in this era to not leave for the chance at championship runs. At his retirement ceremony, the Rockies gave Helton a horse; both are now resting on a ranch in Colorado.
5. Von Miller Suspension
Von Miller went from superstar to suspended more quickly than one of his quarterback sacks. The 24-year old violated the NFL’s drug policy, reportedly with some sort of marijuana violation – and at the same time traffic violations and a missed court date came to light as well. The Miller melodrama began in July and didn’t end until his six-game suspension was filled in mid-October. In recent weeks Miller seems to be back to his old sacking, turnover-forcing self.
6. Varlamov Arrested
From one Avalanche goalie to another, and for much different reasons, they each land on this list. Sermon Varlamov was arrested in late October on domestic abuse charges, in which he is accused of dragged his Russian girlfriend by her hair, hitting her and even stomping on her. A sad story.
7. Caleb Moore/XGames death
Caleb Moore’s story is another sad one, but for another reason. On January 24, Moore was attempting a backflip on a snowmobile at the Winter X-Games in Aspen, when he under rotated and the sled landed on him, knocking him unconscious. The 25-year old died in St. Mary’s Grand Junction hospital one week after the crash. It was the first death in the 17-year history of the Winter X-Games.
8. John Fox Heart Valve Surgery
While the Broncos were on their bye week, head coach John Fox decided to travel to his offseason home in North Carolina for some late-season golf. But while playing, he felt dizzy and was rushed to a Charlotte hospital. It was revealed that Fox needed heart valve surgery – something he was trying to put off until the offseason – and it was a complete success. Fox re-took his place on the sideline as Denver’s head coach in their Dec. 8 game against Tennessee.
9. Lindsey Vonn Injured
One of Colorado’s celebrated sisters was sadly injured in February, and her return has been remarkable. Lindsey Vonn tore her MCL, ACL, meniscus and even fractured her tibial plateau, but then returned to action a mere 176 days later. She partially re-tore her ACL in mid-November, but she’s still hopeful to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
10. Nuggets Fire Karl/Hire Shaw
After eight seasons of mediocrity, the Denver Nuggets fired George Karl. The front office was changed dramatically as well, and they brought in youthful Brian Shaw to replace the veteran coach. Shaw has changed things in Denver, but is still working to put his philosophies in place. The Nuggets had a slow start but have now climbed above .500.
11. Helton Arrested
Rather embarrassingly, Helton was arrested for a DUI in February after drinking “two igloo cups of wine.” Helton pled guilty to a DWAI and was forced to serve community service time. Though the hit on his reputation was likely worse for the hometown hero.
Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Rich is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.