I’m grateful just to be here amidst the cotton fields and desert terrain of Glendale, Ariz. this morning because I became convinced we’d be waylaid by some distracted motorists along “I-one-oh” who were trying to put the hammer down while looking to their left at the Broncos buses lurching past.
Some guy in a Ravens jersey bobs and weaves back and forth two lanes over, looking at our bus more often than he glances at the road in front of him. Then he veers one lane over to the right without using a turn signal. Nice of you to consider the safety of those around you.
Several more cars pass by and can’t seem to avoid crossing over into other lanes as they glance at the buses. I don’t make eye contact; we’re behind tinted glass, and I want merely to observe their driving habits, not to distract them with a stare as cold as a winter night in the desert. These people have enough trouble navigating the road as it is.
A family slows down to give a child in the back seat a chance for him to demonstrate his jersey-popping skills, showing off his No. 24 shirt. The driver keeps his hands on the wheel, though, and proceeds onward.
Moments later, we pull off the highway and into the University of Phoenix Stadium’s parking lot. Unlike Oakland or San Diego, there are no hand or finger salutes. No one to say “You’re No. 1″ — whether it be in the straightforward manner of the index finger or the ironic salute from one digit over. No Roman-emperor thumbs-up or thumbs-down pronouncements. Merely indifference, aside from the three Broncos fans standing by the entrance to the Sportsman’s Park complex, who wave at the two team buses that steam past at just after 10:30 a.m.
And now we are two and a half hours from kickoff. Former Broncos head coach Dan Reeves, in town to analyze the game for Westwood One’s radio broadcast, downs his victuals as he prepares to disseminate his former team. The roof is open, and the stadium is gradually coming to life with the gates opening and a smattering of onlookers casually wandering into the stands, many of them heading for the front row and a chance to break out the digital cameras and snare some snapshots of their favorite players. Only two Broncos are in full uniform right now — kicker Jason Elam and punter Paul Ernster, the latter of whom is back in his home area for the second game this year after visiting in the preseason.
Eventually, there’ll be a game to discuss. For now, there are just random details from a morning spent in waiting … waiting on a game upon which the Broncos’ entire season rides.
Tags: Arizona Cardinals