Being an NFL Fan in the UK can be hard. It involves late nights, expensive merch and far too many Jaguar games. For the last two years we’ve been gifted. Three games a year and by the looks of it that is only going to grow. But waiting for your team to make the trip to Wembley can be frustrating and when they do reach it, you never know what sort of atmosphere you’re going to get as we pack in fans of all 32 teams. It was then with great excitement I decided to make the trip to Denver, Mile High Stadium to see my Broncos. If travelling over 16h and 4500 miles to see a football game sounds insane that’s because it is but with Peyton Manning surely in his last season in the league this is something I had to do.
Booking tickets to a game is actually relatively easy. If you’re after a season ticket though you’re out of luck, the waiting list is currently over 38,000 people. The Broncos do offer half price tickets which have been returned these are however limited. I used the NFL ticket exchange to grab my seat and it’s incredibly simple, you select your seats on the map, checkout and print off your e-ticket, that’s it. Seats start around $130 but can go way above $1000. When booking your accommodation take into account that downtown is expensive, you’re looking at over $300 per night at the very least. I stayed at the doubletree by hilton on Quebec Street, this was less than $100 per night and only a 15-20 minute drive to the stadium and downtown, an Uber costs $12-$18 dollars.
I arrived into Denver the Thursday before the game and honestly went straight to bed, trying to stay up to watch Thursday night football was rough and I just ended up falling asleep, at least it was only the Jets. One of the best things you can do is go on the stadium store, it meets at the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame which is located within the stadium but is actually a non-profit which works with the Broncos. The tour costs $20 and is worth every penny, as you’re guided around the executive boxes and lounges be sure to grab a seat otherwise you’ll fall over when the guide tells you the prices, we can only dream. You’ll also see the press and coaches areas as you make your way around the stadium. Unfortunately you cannot enter Denver’s locker room although you will enter the visitors.
I never realised their areas are so freaking huge and Denver’s is even larger. The last stop on the tour is what you’ve been waiting for; the field. Oh boy is it magnificent. It’s only now as you walk through the tunnel onto the field that you get a real feel for the size and scope of the stadium. It really is something. The playing surface itself is new this year. In the offseason we removed everything. The heating, grass, soil, the artificial blend that the old field was made up off and replaced it with a natural grass field with improved heating to the the tune of $1 million, no biggie. The store shop is incredible, and your wallet will be a lot lighter when you leave, you name it they stock it, want a Broncos jersey for your dog? They’ve got it. Do you need that matching set of Broncos men’s suspenders and tie? Got it. Endless scarfs, hats, jerseys, jumpers, t-shirts and everything in between just take a look at the US NFL shop.
Saturday is commonly College Football day and this is a great chance to head downtown and take a look at the bars and restaurants. Lodo’s Bar and Grill is an absolute highlight serving a wide variety of beers local and otherwise, a great atmosphere and fantastic bar food. Alternatively why not catch another live ball game while you’re in town? The Colorado Buffaloes play around 50 minutes away or the Colorado State Rams 90 minutes. Downtown had a wide variety of shops including name brands, there are several smaller sporting/tourist tours which also sell Bronco gear you can grab some real bargains here and find some merch which isn’t in the main store or online as it’s past seasons stock.
It all comes down to this GAMEDAY. I still hadn’t and I doubt you will have gotten past the jetlag at this point but that’s OK because in the Mile High City we start tailgating from 8am. Tailgating was completely alien to me and although I knew of it, I never really knew what to expect but no doubt it’s one of the highlights of the weekend. Think of it as a bunch of your best friends getting together and having the best bbq you can imagine except in this case that bunch of people is 70,000+ Denver fans. I was knocked back by the hospitality and generosity of people who couldn’t wait to meet this 21 year old lad from Liverpool who travelled to see a Broncos game. If you follow the Broncos on snapchat then you’ll be familiar with the tailgate I settled upon these guys are hardcore fans and they come from far and wide even all the way from New Mexico.
Around the stadium there’s a tonne to do outside of tailgating with various stalls and events set up by sponsors, if you’re looking to meet the players as they enter the stadium be sure to get there early, crowds start to gather at the gates from as early as 8-9am and by 10am the crowd will be at least 4 people deep. If you didn’t already on Friday be sure to check out the ring of fame to pay tribute to the legends of our team. So the game, the game didn’t go to plan. I didn’t get the result I wanted, none of us did but this does not take away from the atmosphere. It’s hard to describe just how loud the stadium gets you certainly can’t appreciate it through the tv, it’s electric, it’s magnetic even when you get embarrassed by the Chiefs you’ll be screaming and shouting, stomping those feet and making as much noise as you can and you’ll be having a great time while you’re doing it.
The game on Sunday was painful to watch in large parts. Peyton never looked like completing a pass and looked completely lost in the offence. We now know he is suffering from various injuries and will sit next week and maybe for a few weeks after that. Once Brock came in the offence came alive, i’d almost forgotten what it was like to get a first down Brock’s cannon arm forced Chief’s linebackers to drop back into coverage opening up the run game which was non existent for over 2 quarters. The run game opened up the middle of the field for Brock and he ran several bootleg plays well and escaped from pressure numerous times. I don’t know if Brock is the better option for the rest of the season it’s almost unimaginable to bench Peyton Manning like this but what I do know is that Brock is better option right now at least for a couple of weeks. I’m excited to see what Brock is capable of and I’m even more excited for the next trip I make to a Denver game, who knows it might even be a Super Bowl.