When I first started getting into football, I was a big Colts fan, and primarily because of Peyton Manning. The things I really liked about him were 1. He played college ball at Tennessee (every female basketball player in my generation dreamed of playing for Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols); 2. He was hilarious whenever he'd do anything off the field like commercials or SNL; and 3. He was really really good. Unfortunately, Jim Irsay got rid of him, so my love of the Colts left me with the along with the tears I shed during the press conference where it was announced (not exaggerating). And even more unfortunate was that he went to the Broncos. In Montana, you either love or hate the Broncos, and I certainly wasn't a fan. Despite that, though, I still wanted him to succeed and was excited to see him play live. So naturally he got hurt a few weeks before this game (hurt, benched, who's to say) and so I was instead watching a quarterback who I had already seen play at the high school level, Brock Osweiler. For the record, he lost to my high school.
What redeemed this game was that we were seeing a whole new Raiders team from the last game we had gone to. New fun young quarterback (Derek Carr), new stud pass rusher (Khalil Mack), and a new coach (Jack Del Rio). Joel had never seen the Raiders win in all his times at Mile High, so what better time to break that slump than his first game there with me?
Some friends of ours are season ticket holders and generously gave us their tickets as a wedding gift. I've said it before, but I genuinely enjoy and maybe prefer endzone tickets. These seats were awesome- we could see everything we needed to and in a game where there were a ton of field goals kicked, we could tell whether or not it was good every time!
Joel had some bad experiences in his younger years of showing up at Mile High in his Raiders gear (he even got beer poured on his as a child by some obnoxious fan), so he was pretty worried going into the day. I had yet to see the hate that gets thrown around at NFL games, so I was probably pretty naive going into it, but the people around us were great! I think there were a couple of circumstances that helped us out, though. First, the flow of the game was such that the Bronco's completely dominated the first half. The didn't put up a ton of points, because most of their possessions that made it to the red zone ended in a field goal, but the Raiders looked horrible. So I think the people around us pitied the poor Raider's fans who had gotten the tickets for their wedding and took us in as one of their own. We threw in some self-deprecating jokes to really cement their feelings. The second thing was that there was the most obnoxious Raiders fan a few rows ahead of us. I'm all for pulling for your team, but actively looking to argue with people and wave your flag in their faces anytime the Raiders do anything semi-productive is not, in my opinion, the way to do it. But at least he made us look good!
Like I said, the Broncos dominated the first half, but never really shut the door. In the second half, the Raiders scratched and clawed their way back in it, lead by Khalil Mack who had what seemed like a billion sacks and seemed to be involved in every big defensive play. The Raiders took the lead in the 4th quarter and never gave it back. The Broncos didn't even score in the second half! By then, it was too late for the people around us to hate us too much, so we even got out generally unscathed. Osweiler is 0-2 in games I've seen him play. Poor Brock.
In the morning, we went to Snooze, a popular breakfast place in Denver. Being Sunday morning, we had quite the wait to get in, but we were patient and it was totally worth it. I had pumpkin cream cheese pancakes (YUM) and Joel got their eggs benedict, which also got the stamp of approval. It has a cool hipster type vibe and is a great choice if you're looking for a place where you can down some great food and mimosas in the Denver area.
At the game, we got some of your typical stadium food- I think we split nachos and a BBQ beef sandwich. But everyone knows that NFL games are all about the beer, and Mile High has plenty of it, especially if you're a Coors fan. The have a brewing site in that area, so you know it's gonna be cold and fresh!
We stayed on the fringe of Denver because the hotel was significantly cheaper, but in hind sight, it probably ended up costing us about the same as if we had stayed closer to downtown. The hotel had a shuttle to the game but not from- we had driven down but figured we could just Uber or Lyft back after and not worry about parking. What we didn't plan for was that in the cold, your phones can be a little glitchy and the battery can be negatively affected, so we had a heck of a time getting a request to be picked up in after the game. When we finally did, traffic was so horrible in the area that we kept having drivers cancel on us because they couldn't get anywhere close. Finally, about an hour after we had left the stadium, we finally got picked up and started back to the hotel. It took quite a while because of the traffic, and we were about a half hour drive away to begin with, so it cost us a pretty penny. Definitely would have been easier (and about the same price) to either drive ourselves and park in one of the parking lots right by the stadium (they go for about $50 per spot, but again, better than trying to get picked up in the chaos), or staying in a hotel closer to the stadium that had a shuttle both to and from. You live and you learn, I guess!
Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.