Bob Benz: Not fooling around about this
Sometimes sports feel like one big April Fools’ joke.
Seriously, who in their right mind would believe some of the stuff that has gone down over the course of the past year?
Imagine you’re sitting around on April 1, 2011, minding your own business, when suddenly you’re startled by the thunderous sound of a flux capacitor-equipped DeLorean whizzing past you at 88 mph.
Still stunned by this surreal, out-of-the-blue occurrence, you watch in disbelief as the door pops up and out walks this zany older scientist gentleman who claims to be from the future.
He’s from April 1, 2012 and says he traveled back in time, precisely 366 days to tell of stories that will soon unfold in the world of sports.
And once he’s finished telling his tall tales, the April 1, 2011 version of ourselves are fairly certain it’s either an elaborately-staged April Fools Day joke or just a very strange, yet vivid dream. Either way, we’re rather amused and not buying any of the information this false prophet is feeding us.
He starts off with some football talk.
Future man: Did you see how John Elway was recently named executive vice president of the Denver Broncos (earlier in 2011)?
OK, you don’t have to talk.
You’re probably aware that Elway was drafted first overall by the Colts in 1983 and eventually traded to the Broncos after he whined about not wanting to play in Baltimore.
So get this, Elway, the Broncos and the Colts are all going to be intertwined once again.
Right now (2011), Elway has an interesting situation on his hands in terms of quarterbacks. He’s got Kyle Orton, who almost every football person will tell you is the best pure quarterback on the team. Then there’s Tim Tebow, who is a supremely-gifted athlete, but very rough around the edges when it comes to his passing skills. You probably also know Tebow’s immensely popular among most Broncos’ fans – at least more so than Orton. And the team also has Brady Quinn, the former Notre Dame quarterback, who a number of folks believe is a better QB than Tebow.
Although much of Denver’s fan base never warmed up to Orton, his spot atop the QB depth chart was never seriously challenged in training camp and so he begins the season as the Broncos’ starter.
The Broncos start 1-4, the fans clamor for Tebow and head coach John Fox finally gives in and starts the former Heisman winner, while Orton is released. First start against the Dolphins, Tebow looks putrid for the game’s first 57 minutes or so. Down 15-0, Tebow throws two touchdown passes in the final 2:44 and ties game at 15 apiece by running in two-point conversion with 17 seconds left.
Broncos win in overtime and go on to win six of their next seven in similar fashion to suddenly take division lead in AFC West. Although Tebow looks abysmal in three straight losses, including a setback to the Orton-led Chiefs in Week 17, Denver still manages to back into the playoffs at 8-8.
Denver opens postseason at home against defending AFC champ Pittsburgh.
So it goes to overtime and it’s the first OT game with this new playoff provision that doesn’t allow contests to end on a first-possession field goal. Only a first-possession touchdown can end the game.
So what happens? First play from scrimmage in OT, Tebow hits Demaryius Thomas in stride for 80-yard touchdown pass. Game over. Broncos win.
The following week, Broncos get blown out by Patriots. Season over, but it was a feel-good story for Tebow and Broncos fans.
You won’t believe this, but while all this is going down, something unusual is happening in Indianapolis.
I’ll bet you think the Colts won 10 or 11 games like they always do and went back to the playoffs. Try a 2-14 season, which gives them the top overall pick in April’s draft.
I see that got your attention.
Peyton Manning. The guy who’s never missed a game since being drafted by the Colts first overall in 1998. He had a couple surgeries to help repair nerve damage in his neck. Never even saw the field in 2011, and the Colts were just miserable as a result.
But ... as “luck” would have it, their dismal season helped put them in position to draft the best college quarterback prospect since, Manning or maybe even Elway.
So the Colts – I’m being serious now – cut Manning in March for a number of reasons. He’s 36, he’s got some health concerns, he’s about to have a $28 million roster bonus kick in and this stud quarterback Andrew Luck is sitting there waiting to be drafted.
After Manning’s cut, he’s wined and dined by a handful of potential suitors, but ultimately decides on Denver.
A few days after Manning is signed, the Broncos tell Tebow thanks for the memories and trade him to the New York Jets. All the while, Quinn signs a free-agent deal to join the Chiefs.
So to sum up, each of the three quarterbacks who are on a playoff-bound Broncos team will each be former Broncos in less than a year. In addition, the Manning guy everyone figured was a Colt-for-life was cut by Indy and joined Denver.
You guys don’t believe me, do you?
Any baseball fans here?
So did you hear about this Frank McCourt clown who bought the Los Angeles Dodgers for $430 million in 2004 on credit, then went through a messy divorce, filed for bankruptcy and was forced to sell the team?
Anyone want to wager a guess on how this all turned out for him?
Before we get into that, any basketball fans here? Magic Johnson’s name ring a bell ...?
Bob Benz, assistant sports editor for The Leader, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.