I don’t think I’m breaking any news when I say this, but in case you weren’t aware, professional sports franchises don’t care what the fans think. And the Broncos are no different.
Joe Ellis isn’t going to fire John Elway because Broncos Country is in an uproar. John Elway isn’t going to change his philosophy based on a collection of angry tweets. Vic Fangio isn’t going to put Drew Lock into the lineup because he’s constantly asked about the rookie quarterback (he did make that change, but it had nothing to do with the outside noise).
As frustrating as it is, that’s just the way things work inside Dove Valley and every other facility in the NFL.
With that said, the fanbase isn’t completely powerless to influence change for the hometown team. Sunday afternoon, Broncos Country took a major step forward in that process by simply, well, sitting on their couches.
The biggest story coming out of the Broncos walk-off 23-20 win over the Chargers wasn’t a sweep of their division rivals. It wasn’t their redemption for multiple last-second losses this season. Frankly, it might not even be the debut of what might be the team’s newest franchise quarterback.
No, what got everyone talking yesterday was the 19,000-plus empty seats at Empower Field at Mile High this week.
In this case, the silence of a half empty stadium in the second half speaks much louder than any of the cries emanating from the fanbase so far this season. Those with the power to make change may not care about how we think they should run their business, but they do care about losing money. Empty seats means a loss of interest and a loss of interest means a loss of money.
The greatest enemy of a team isn’t an angry fanbase, it’s an indifferent one.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Broncos Country since I moved here in April, it’s that they understand good football. A winning expectation has been set thanks to years of success, and in the eyes of the orange-and-blue faithful, there’s no excuse for an inability to live up to that high bar.
So three years into the worst stretch of football in this storied franchise’s history, fans are showing their displeasure in the smartest way possible: By affecting the bottom line. Surely, Joe Ellis and Company saw all those empty seats, heard about shorter concession lines, and noticed less merchandise sales on Sunday afternoon. In the end, those are the things they’re worried about.
So props to you Broncos fans who made your opinions felt by watching this one from home. Even bigger props to those who will do it again in three weeks when the Lions come to town, then again the week after that as the season comes to an end against the Raiders.
If you really want to see change, that’s the way to get it done. It’s not easy, but in the long run, it’s worth it for the team you care about the most.
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