One of the elements of the 2007 training camp that has brought continuous comment from team members as well as a number of media is that of fan attendance.
Actually, fan passion is more accurate than attendance.
During the Wednesday morning workout the fans began a “Broncos” chant that drowned out other conversation — and that kind of vitality is welcomed by the team and all the players.
Without fans, where are you? These are the people who demonstrate vocally and by attendance how much you mean to them, and it is an honor to be loved. You can’t force it or demand it, you just have to be grateful for it and try to play up to its standard.
The crowds coming to daily Broncos practices at Dove Valley have been in record numbers, and some of the fans have not missed a single practice, arriving as soon as the fan gate is open and not leaving until the last Bronco has left the field, long after the end of each drill.
This is an amazing phenomenon, and Denver is not alone in fan loyalty among National Football League teams — every team talks up its fans, but there is nothing like the hard reality of statistics to lend a true perspective.
The Broncos have been sold out for every home game since the last game of the 1969 seson, so the team is in its 38th year — its fourth full decade — of complete sellouts. Only the Redskins hve a longer sellout streak. Fans might ask about the Packers, but you have to remember that for many years they annually played half their games in Milwaukee, and some of those Green Bay home games were not sold out.
Roughly 23,000 Bronco season ticket holders have the rights to the over 70,000 seats sold as season tickets, but local TV ratings tell a greater story — the Broncos have been at the very top in local TV ratings among all NFL teams since these market figures started being charted.
To many fans, respectfully stated, the Broncos are a “state religion,” so it’s no wonder that camp attendance is as it is.
The Broncos have appeared in 230 nationally televised games during Pat Bowlen’s tenure as team owner (1984 to the present).
That includes 92 national doubleheader games, 41 Monday night games, 30 Sunday night games, 26 postseason games, 23 preseason games, 15 Saturday (or other) prime time games, and three Thanksgiving Day games. That is believed to be more national exposure than any other AFC franchise has received during that time.
Within the framework of that kind of fervor, the Broncos kick off the 2007 season with a Monday night game at San Francisco on August 13. Nationally televised by ESPN, of course, the first of what fans can expect to be a steady pattern of national exposure this year as well.
Over the last forty years of unbridled passion for the Orange and Blue, it only shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Only more so.