Orange Crush starts early for Denver Broncos diehards |

Orange Crush starts early for Denver Broncos diehards

DOVE VALLEY – As Denver Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe jogged across the practice field Thursday, a sea of orange rose from the crowd and chanted his name.

The sea came from far and wide for the opportunity to warm up its vocal chords for the regular season, crashing itself into the metal bleachers with one goal: to be as loyal a football fan as possible.

Fittingly, many had Sharpe’s name scrawled across their back and wore the same number. One guy had painted his face the same color as his shoes – blue. And, well, Sharpe could only keep jogging and tug his floppy hat over his face.

Over 700 loyal fans showed up in the morning practice, while a few hundred braved the afternoon heat to witness the Broncos run drill after drill.

Denver resident Wilson Garth brought a life-size cardboard cutout of John Elway. Did he realize Elway was retired?

“I just wondered how much attention I could get,” Garth, 24, said. “I bought this thing for five bucks.”

Garth mentioned, after all, that he worked for the official carpet cleaner of the Denver’s favorite sports team.

One crew drove 230 miles from Lingle, Wyo. to reach the practice. It didn’t take long before the foursome relived Super Bowl II.

“You’ve got to love beating the Packers,” said David Saul, who’s friend, Cherie Pontarelo, brought her niece, Melissa Diass and her nephew, Duston Diass.

“Well, I’m the one who gave her the idea in the first place,” Duston said.

And what about those rain clouds on the horizon?

“We’ll be here, rain, snow, tornado, whatever,” Cherie said.

Gave Montanez and Michelle Dimucci watched both practices Thursday and plan to frequent the regular season games.

“Lots of parties, lots of tears,” said Dimucci, wearing an Ed McCaffrey jersey.

“We’ve been here twice today and we’ll be here tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day,” Montanez said.

While Montanez isn’t too happy with the name of the Broncos’ stadium (Invesco Field), compared to Mile High Stadium, she did offer a solution.

“Why don’t they just make Broncos license plates and sell them. That way, we can go back to the old name,” Montanez said. Her friends, Trish Duran and Amanda Kirk, both agreed.

Denver’s season tickets have been sold out very year since 1971 and, last season, the Broncos set a record with 1,161,974 fans in attendance. Season tickets go on sale Monday through Ticketmaster. For info on Broncos tickets, call (720) 258-3333.

Ryan Slabaugh can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext .257, or at

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