RICK WINE IS a Denver Broncos fan, but I can’t hold that against him. Not when I hear the tale of his wife going into labor with their second daughter at Mile High Stadium during a Broncos game two months into the season. That daughter, Mariah, “already had eight weeks in the womb being a Denver Broncos fan” at birth, he says.
I can’t hold his enthusiasm against him when I see him watching a game with that same daughter decades later. They agree that while they might have been close anyway, the team is one of the things that binds them. They’re part of the Denver Broncos Fans of Seattle group I meet at St. Andrews Bar & Grill on Aurora Avenue, as the Broncos play the rival Las Vegas Raiders. The bar also hosts University of Florida fans, whose team colors are conveniently the same as the Broncos’, and its backroom is decked out in orange and blue.
Most of the people here have lived in Seattle for a long time. Many of them root for the Sounders and the Mariners and the Kraken. But they just can’t bring themselves to break with the Broncos for the Seahawks.
“It’s the one team I couldn’t let go of,” says Dennis Anderson, a Denver native who has lived in Seattle for 23 years.
David Johnson is one of the group’s organizers. He enjoyed hanging out with Denver fans in the D.C. area when he lived there for a few years, and he wanted to foster the same feeling when he moved here in 2011. “It grew organically, especially from the Super Bowl we don’t talk about,” he says. (It occurs to me that a Super Bowl you don’t talk about is one thing Broncos fans have in common with Seahawks fans.)
Now, Johnson says, “I have connections with Broncos groups all over the country.”
The Denver fans are super nice as the game goes on — even politely ignoring a couple of Raiders fans who have invaded their space.
They cheer for scores and first downs. They chant “In-com-plete!” when the other team fails to make a pass connection, just the way they do in Denver. I’m not a Denver fan, but the enthusiasm is infectious.
Uzo Akotaobi quickly waxes philosophical when he thinks about his Broncos fellowship. “A lot of the friends I have today, I met at this bar,” he says. He knows he might never have befriended some of these folks if it weren’t for this connection. “We have all these differences, but if you’re a Denver Broncos fan, it doesn’t matter.”
The bonds go beyond football. Seattle’s Broncos fans have joined together for fundraising events, including the Walk to End Alzheimer’s (former Broncos owner Pat Bowlen died of the disease) and drives for Toys for Tots and Northwest Harvest.
To many, this group feels like family. Shaundra Herrud grew up in a Broncos-loving household in Idaho. She didn’t know anyone when she moved here in 2018, but when it comes to this group, “I feel like I’ve been adopted.”
Akotaobi says that no matter where you go, seeing someone in your favorite team’s jersey evokes a sense of kinship. “There’s something about us as humans; we’re looking to connect with someone,” he says. Supporting the same team “drops so many of those walls. You start exploring other things that connect you.”