The 5 Stages of Grief After Losing The Super Bowl
I am a lifelong Broncos fan. When the Broncos went to Super Bowl XXXII, the 5-year-old piss-ant version of me1 memorized the Broncos’ entire active roster. I’ve cheered the Broncos on through the Brian Griese years, the Jake Plummer years, the Jay Cutler years, and even the year the unthinkable happened.2 The Peyton Manning years, of course, have been much more agreeable than those of his predecessors; rather than having a quarterback who was famous for his mediocrity, his last name, his Diabetes, his unkemptness or his momentary Christlike qualities, we finally had a quarterback who was famous for being a damn good quarterback. It was like having John Elway 2.0™, now featuring twice the Daddy issues and more records than ever before!
The narrative to the Super Bowl only got bigger and better. We had Champ Bailey, a seasoned veteran who had never been to a Super Bowl.3 We had John Fox, a humble head coach who suffered a heart attack in the middle of the season. We had arguably the best offense in NFL History, five players (excluding PFM) with 10+ TDs, and for fuck’s sake, IT IS THE YEAR OF THE HORSE. But, as the Patriots were hilariously taught in 2008, the Big Game has no regard — possibly even an intense disdain — for narratives and destinies.
So, here I am. Two days after the Super Bowl, possibly still a little hungover from Sunday night’s non-negotiable post-game activities and becoming intimately familiar with more versions of sadness than a goddamn thesaurus could produce. To cope with the most crushing disappointment a man can face before getting shanghai’d into the institution we call Marriage, I’ve outlined what I’ve experienced to be the 5 Stages of Grief, as they relate to your team losing the Super Bowl.
Stage 1: “We’re a second-half kind of team.”
This season, I watched the Broncos go into several halftimes without any semblance of a convincing lead. And in (almost) all of those games, the team came back swinging, not only winning the game, but winning it with style. Even going into halftime losing 22-0 to the best defense in the NFL (not to mention we were also kicking off at the half), I was downright positive that the Broncos would turn the second half into a royal blowout — I was thinking maybe four passing TDs, a running TD and a pick-six. Of course, life doesn’t work that way in the Super Bowl.
Stage 2: “Fuck this game, I don’t even like football.”
This is, by far, the worst stage. There is usually one play that seals the game, and after you stop shouting misdirected obscenities at Bruno Mars, the thought first occurs to you that your team might not be able to Spearchucker Jones their way out of this one.4 Through the course of the next twenty minutes or so, the thought grows steadily, because just like Christopher Nolan fucking said, ideas are contagious. Before too long, it has fully hit you: there is no Super Bowl win in store for your team this year. It’s all over.
Stage 3: “BUT WE WERE SO GOOD THIS SEASON!”
In this stage, you have uncontrollable, PTSD-esque flashbacks to great moments from earlier in the season. Remember when we beat down the reigning Super Bowl champions in the first game of the season? Remember when Knowshon put up 224 yards against New England? Remember when we shut up those insufferable Chiefs fans with two clutch wins in three weeks? Remember when Peyton committed Swaffelen against Drew Brees and Tom Brady in the record books?
Stage 4: “I am a tiny person on a huge planet in an immense galaxy in an incomprehensibly large universe. Why is football so important to me?”
At this point, your internal persona makes a seamless transition from “belligerently emotional Christian Bale” to “abruptly introspective Morgan Freeman.” Your abject sadness has led you to some pretty huge questions. If there is a benevolent God, then why does Tarvaris Jackson now have as many Super Bowl rings as Peyton Manning? In a parallel universe, would Anthony Kiedis never take off his shirt? If Richard Sherman and Erin Andrews were elected to be the progenitors of a Mars colony, how might gender dynamics be different? After some time with just you and your thoughts, you have finally begun to find some inner peace. And then…
Stage 5: “Is it August yet?”
Sadly, your serenity is unceremoniously bulldozed into eternal darkness by the harrowing realization that football doesn’t start again until August. You now enter into Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, in which the spring and summer seasons are characterized by an indefatigable depression. You can’t even get excited about the draft, seeing as your team will have the second-to-last pick. You just have to wait, and wait, and wait.
To everyone reading this who has suffered this same terrible fate, know that you are not alone, and that #ItGetsBetter. Most importantly, never forget everyone’s favorite four word chant: There’s Always Next Season.