As I sat at my computer this morning going through countless emails and skipping boring news stories, one particular twitter post caught my eye, and for a second I couldnt believe it. The Broncos greatest fan ever, and possibly the greatest fan in all of sports, the Barrel Man has passed away.
I remember seeing the Barrel Man at almost every Broncos game I went to, and he was a fixture in the community. For a time when you said Denver Broncos the first response you would get would be John Elway or the Barrel Man. It was a sad day several years ago when he retired, I had no idea of the serious nature of his medical illness. For me, when he retired it was like a bit of the Orange Crush, Mile High Stadium, South end zone craziness that I grew up with was all gone. New stadium, new colors and uniforms, new players, and no more Barrel Man. I’m not saying that I don’t dig the new stadium, uniforms, or colors, just that to me it felt like the door to my youth as a Broncos fan was shut and locked.
Barrel Man was the first sports fan inducted into the Visa sports fan hall of fame. He was so respected that when he went to Oakland to cheer for the Broncos the crazies in the Black Hole would escort him through the stadium for his protection. According to the story in today’s Denver Post the worst treatment he ever got was in San Diego (stay classy San Diego) where he was pushed down the stairs by Charger fans.
So today as I religiously drink my Sunday morning cup of coffee out of my Broncos coffee mug like I do the morning of every game, prepare to hang the Broncos flag outside my house, and try to decide which Broncos shirt, jersey, or sweatshirt to wear today, I will think of the Barrel Man as he smiles down on Broncos fans world wide. Barrel man, I salute you!