It's been three full days now and I can still hear his voice. It was barely above freezing on the last day in November and the rain, while not completely piercing like frozen bullets, still had sting, had life. Cold, win and rain formed a palpable trio. But the voice cut through it, sharp. Swift. Raspy.
"Cutlaaaaaah. Cutlaaaaaah. It's Cutlaaaaaah, baby!"
When you go to see one of your teams play on another team's turf, alone, you hope to find solace and comfort in fellow fans. Knowledgeable fans, witty fans, fans who can take a shot and give two right back.
He was not one of them.
I came in halfway through the first quarter (we parked at 3:15 and I still managed to get two-and-a-half hot dogs and five beers in) with the score tied 7-7. Walking up I heard about Thomas Jones' long TD scamper, so I asked the nearest Bronco fan -- a man wearing a bright-orange, shag carpet Cypress Hill hat -- how Denver scored the first touchdown. "The defense, baby, an ... interception return. Big play by the defense!"
He was promptly corrected by the long-time Jets season-ticket holder behind us, standing in work boots, jeans, an amazingly soggy Jets hoodie and no hat. Fumble return. Questionable call.
We traded some barbs (always fun when your team's ahead), and later we traded White Horse scotch swigs from my flask. It was a courtesy not extended to my nearest comrade-in-headgear.
Halftime came, Broncos ahead 27-14, and the stands magically emptied. Despite this, my girlfriend and I stayed in our nosebleed seats, believing that when one vantage point works, and works well, you stay there. No pictures exist of this vantage point, of course, because fingers weren't designed to operate in such deplorable conditions.
"Did Cutlaaaaaah throw a touchdown?"
"No, Peyton Hillis ran it in. But we scored."
"Yeah, but dat doesn't git me any fantasy points."
I was beginning to doubt if he was truly a Bronco fan.
With about 7 minutes remaining in the game, I got a call from my friend, who was down in the lower level, under the overhang. I assume it's a request to leave; the game was firmly in the hands of the sunrises and sunsets and the temperature was going as the sun goes in the latter, and not the former.
However we were told to head down, finish the win and dry off. Eagerly we raced down the spiral staircase, listening to the f-bombs and abuses of numerous Jets fans, wondering -- like me -- why Mangini decided to pass on three fourth-down tries. Upon reaching the lower level it was obvious that we were not the only ones treating ourselves to the cover; numerous Bronco fans took advantage, including the woman in front of me who heard ongoing cries of "Shaaaaaaaaaanon Sharrrrrrrrrrrrpe" and not once looked back, either because she didn't want to give them the satisfaction or because she didn't know who he was, despite wearing his jersey.
As the final seconds wound down I slapped strangers' hands, chanted "Here We Go, Broncos, Here We Go" and revealed my secret weapon: the JC Saves shirt. Since I got it three games ago, I've worn it each game day: they've won each game I've watched either on TV or in person (Falcons, Jets) and lost the game I didn't (Raiders). If it's adhering to my torso and my eyes are gazing at its inspiration, things are good.
It got some solid compliments. One thumbs-up.
The man who should've seen it, however, didn't. That's a privelege reserved for just a few.