The 2022 NFL season schedule is out, leading to even more nationwide excitement among pro football fans, but nowhere more so than in Denver.
With the brilliant Russell Wilson at quarterback, Denver Broncos fans are wildly enthusiastic about a winning season and a return to the playoffs, and it is not crazy to say the words Super Bowl.
That is now. But there once was then.
While the number of national television games Denver might have is roughly regulated by the NFL and television networks today, the Broncos' national games once were easy to figure.
The number was zero. And not just zero for a season, but a decade or longer.
Before last season, the Broncos had the longest streak of seasons having appeared on "Monday Night Football," but they did not have their first such game until 1973.
It was a major event in Denver. The Broncos hosted the Oakland Raiders, and it probably was at that point the most-watched event ever in the history of Denver and of Colorado. That was in the days when TV stations shot film, before videotape was in use, so coverage was exponentially less than for the Broncos' first MNF game.
For many seasons of my career the Broncos were great. Hence, we lived on national TV.
Monday night, Sunday night, Thursday and Saturday, to say nothing of the Sunday doubleheaders.
Not only were the Broncos great, with a superstar quarterback (notice the comparisons to the present), but the networks loved the Colorado sky, the sunshine and mountain views, as well as the chance of a snowstorm. Each of these elements is in play once again this year.
Plus, the Broncos are playing in London. This will be Denver's first trip out of the country that I will miss, after seven American Bowls and a previous regular-season game in London.
Plus, the Broncos play in Los Angeles on Christmas Day.
With the advent of Russell Wilson, consider the total audiences of all games, which will be largely national. Then add in the playoffs. The numbers are quite different from the days when Howard Cosell ruled the roost at MNF.
So go ahead, Broncos fans, be excited and giddy.
This season offers the promise of more excitement and wins than any since the days when Peyton Manning and John Elway played here. For the schedule and its relative promise, it is all about the quarterback, and Denver again lives in that world.
Hope is a great thing, and the Broncos schedule reflects that once more!