Fox to Broncos: ‘Imagine what we could be’ if we put a full game together
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Attention fans of “Brian’s Song,” “Remember the Titans,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Any Given Sunday,” “Rudy” and yes, even “Little Giants.”
Unless you want your notions about the mythical power of the spoken word in football dashed, stop reading now.
Stand in an actual locker room following an event like the Broncos’ 35-24 comeback win over the San Diego Chargers on Monday night, and you’ll find the value of pregame, halftime and postgame speeches is laughably overblown.
Hushes rarely fall over dimly-lit locker rooms (all NFL locker rooms have well-adjusted lighting systems). Eyes are rarely fixed on a coach at a blackboard (most blackboards have been replaced by whiteboards). Lockers are rarely beaten with fists in unison (that practice would result in splinters, as most lockers are now made of wood.)
If that weren’t enough, there’s also the fact that NFL coaches aren’t delivering these emotionally-charged speeches to hugely-engaged audiences.
As it turns out, it’s hard to sustain an attention span 1) while recovering from any matter of time spent lessening your brain cell count, 2) while riding enough adrenaline to pile drive a 400-pound man, 3) while trying not to forget page 327 of a 400-page playbook or 4) while blaring DMX over a state-of-the-art sound device.
Still think NFL athletes are hanging on their head coach’s every word? Peyton Manning doesn’t agree with you.
“No words make a comeback like that happen,” Manning said after engineering the 47th late-game comeback win of his career, more than anyone in NFL history not named Dan Marino.
So there you have it: Words aren’t enough to rally the troops.
But are they enough to give the troops perspective?
With rhetoric having such a stated lack of importance, John Fox’s words following the second biggest comeback in NFL history might turn out to be as rare as out-scoring your opponent 35-0 in the second half.
Why? These words actually seemed to resonate with Fox’s locker room.
Here are a few highlights:
“The best part was, we were in here at halftime down 24-zip, and I could see there was no quit in your eyes,” Fox said. To yawns.
“We’ve had a lot of fourth quarter comebacks, but they’ve never seen the one-two punch of offense and defense,” Fox said, resorting to the use of prize fighter theatrics. The guy over Fox’s left shoulder literally scowls.
“Right now there are only two teams in the AFC that have winning records. We’re right there, men,” Fox said. Big whoop.
That’s right about the time Fox decided to flex his literary genius.
“If we can ever put 60 minutes together, imagine what we could be,” Fox said. Whistles, gasps and murmurs ensued.
That is not a response you’ll get in an NFL locker room all that often. And its presence in the Denver locker room is probably a good sign.
Riding the emotion of a historic comeback win, it’s tough not to get caught up in the positives. And that’s all well and good, Manning said.
“But all a comeback win means is you screwed up in the first half,” Manning said.
You can’t talk about Eric Decker’s amazing effort to carry a defender into the end zone in the second half without mentioning the fact that he tripped over an invisible log on his way to what would have been a much easier touchdown in the first half.
You can’t mention the six turnovers the Broncos forced in the second half without mentioning the three turnovers they committed in the first half.
Go back to the tape on DenverBroncos.com. You can’t watch the elated celebration of defenders Elvis Dumervil and Wesley Woodyard without viewing the exasperating head shaking of offensive lineman Zane Beadles.
So go ahead and call this the Monday Night Miracle and celebrate it for two weeks until the Broncos face the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 28.
But know that the Broncos appear to be going into their bye week thinking about how close they were to the Monday Night Meltdown, and pondering a rarely-comprehended postgame question posed by their head coach:
Just how good can we be?