So the Denver Broncos, after winning 11 straight games to grab the top seed in the AFC, go down in flames to the Baltimore Ravens in what can only be called a stunning upset. Grown men are weeping in the streets, vehicles painted to look like giant horse heads are swerving into bridge abutments, and a darkness has fallen over the Mile-High City. And I take full responsibility.
Allow me to introduce myself…I’m the Kiss of Death.
Oh, you can “pooh-pooh” the notion all you want. It’s a verifiable fact.
I have been put to the test innumerable times. You see, I was born and raised in southeast Michigan which, by default, made me a Detroit Lions fan. This is a team that hasn’t had so much as a whiff of the Lombardi trophy – the last time the Lions won it all there wasn’t even such a thing as the Super Bowl. In fact, that last glorious championship year was 1957. The year after I was born. Since then, as I have come to develop this frightening power, the team has only watched the Big Game from the comfort of their easy chairs.
Even the best running back to grace the sport, Barry Sanders, wasn’t enough to overcome my victory-crushing stink-eye and get the team to the promised land. While those seasons are looked upon as the Golden Years, with Barry’s dazzling dashes leading Detroit to 5 playoff appearances in the nineties (hey, backing in still counts), the fact remains that they tasted victory in only one of those playoff games. My powers peaked just around the dawn of the new millennium, leading to what locals refer to as the Dark Times. That was when former player and commentator Matt Millen was named CEO/General Manager, despite the fact he had absolutely no business acumen (or common sense) whatsoever. The ineptitude of his staffing choices – both players and management – is now legendary, with the Wall Street Journal once writing how NFL executives privately admitted that Millen “made more bad…decisions than anyone else in two centuries.” When it came to head coaches, he gave us Marty Mornhinweg, who amassed a 5-27 record over two miserable seasons, highlighted by a decision to KICK THE BALL AWAY after winning the coin toss to start an overtime session (and, yes, the Bears drove down and scored off that opening kickoff to end the game). And let’s not forget Rod Marinelli, the architect of the worst season EVER in the history of the NFL, the ’08 campaign that saw the team fail to put a single notch in the “win” column, the first seasonal goose-egg since the league went to a 16-game schedule.
The team continued to dance with Matt Millen for more than 7 years – he was finally, mercifully, given his walking papers after the first three losses in that barren ’08 season. The numbers speak for themselves. Millen racked up an abysmal .277 win percentage (31-81) during his reign, never once finishing a season with more than 7 victories, all while serving as the second-highest paid CEO in the league. But the blame shouldn’t fall on him – the poor bastard never had a chance. Such is my legacy.
And then, two years ago, I moved to Colorado with my family (due to security concerns, I think it’s best not to reveal any more than that). Denver is a mere 60 miles away – close enough to draw the eye of Sauron. Be afraid, Broncos fans, be very afraid.
The very next year, the resurgent Lions are in the playoffs (though, in typical fashion, make a hasty exit with a first-round loss – the vestiges of 5 decades of futility are not so easily shaken). Granted, Denver also makes the playoffs, though just barely, but it’s only a matter of time before my unholy abilities bring “Tebow-mania” to an abrupt end as he and his teammates are handed their hats by the Patriots in the second-round. Now we will see if Peyton Manning has enough juice to stave off the Kiss of Death. If Saturday’s game was any indication, it doesn’t look good.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure, though I’m considering the possibility of having the walls of my house lined with lead. Or if John Elway wants to put up a little cash, I could be persuaded to move to Boston.