I believe it was Grantland’s Bill Simmons who put forth the notion that a sports team has about a ten year grace period after it wins a championship before the fan base can reasonably start complaining that it hasn’t won another one. For Denver sports fans, a few of those grace periods have not-so-gracefully expired and have now given way to potential seasons of discontent.
I was reminded after reading Adrian Dater’s excellent piece in the Denver Post about the Ray Bourque trade, that the Colorado Avalanche has now crossed the threshold of that grace period with 11 years since a Stanley Cup to its name. The 2001 championship season was far more rewarding than the first one because the team was brand new in 1996. After five years of realizing what a great team we had here, the 2001 Cup was like a victory lap for all those who followed the team. The Avs are still probably a few years away from really competing for a third Cup but you can feel free to start the grumbling about it as early as September.
The Broncos however are 14 years removed from its last championship and as it pushes toward 20, the fans have a very real gripe with Pat Bowlen, Jah Elway and whoever else is signing the checks at Dove Valley. But if fans can’t have a championship, they would at least like for the team to compete. The Broncos have already been saddled with high expectations with the addition of Peyton Manning, and while no one is directly demanding a Super Bowl victory in the coming season, the fans will want to see something in the form of progress. Anything less and the grousing will commence.
The Nuggets and the Rockies are excused from this discussion because as you may have realized, they haven’t won it all. The Nuggets are always in the playoffs and that has bought them a little leeway with the fans. And while the Rockies have tapped out all the good will they accumulated from its World Series run like a well used ashtray, no one is beating that drum because they haven’t been close since. So while the Broncos and Avs are on the clock, the Rockies and Nuggets just keep getting theirs set back an hour.
The grace periods for the Avs and Broncos have expired according to Bill Simmons and most fans of the teams. And what they do in the coming season will determine if their clocks should be set back an hour or if they should keep counting down to the increased displeasure of those watching that clock.