After witnessing the Boston Red Sox pull off the improbable by coming from a three game deficit to beat the New York Yankees and win the American League pennant, sport fans all across the world are anxiously waiting to see if this is the year that the supposed "Curse of the Bambino" is finally broken.
Whether the Red Sox win the series or not, it's hard to argue against the existence of the curse. After trading Babe Ruth to the rival Yankees in 1920, the Sox have experienced year after year of player meltdowns, heartbreaking losses, and more bad luck than any other team in sports. Despite numerous attempts, it's been 86 years since Boston has won a World Series.
After losing Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, not to trade, but retirement, many Denver Bronco fans are beginning to wonder if the team isn't experiencing it's own curse—"The Curse of Elway."
Following the consecutive Super Bowl wins of '97 & '98, the team has failed to win a playoff game. In five seasons, the Broncos have made only two post-season appearances, most recently experiencing a lopsided 41-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in last years AFC Wildcard game. Player meltdowns, heartbreaking losses, bad luck—Bowlen's crew has seen it all since Elway's departure after the '98 season.
Brian Griese certainly fits the bill of the player that wasn't. Initially touted by the Denver Post as "the heir apparent to John Elway", the QB had problems adjusting to Coach Shanahan's offense. Twice during his four-year career in the Mile High City, Griese threw just as many picks as touchdowns, and posted passer ratings well below 80 percent. Fourth-quarter comebacks were few and far between, and it was obvious to all Bronco fans that Elway's title of Denver's most successful (not to mention beloved) quarterback would remain unchallenged. Griese was traded following the 2002 season and Jake Plummer was acquired via free agency.
Bad luck? The Denver Broncos know a little something about that. Football is undoubtedly a violent sport where injuries are commonplace. Fluke injuries however have plagued the team over the past few years. These injuries include but are not limited to: Eddie Mac christening Invesco Field by snapping two bones in his leg during the first game played at the new stadium, Griese allegedly tripping over his dog, and Plummer breaking a bone in his foot while watching TV.
So perhaps the "Curse of Elway" does exist, but the men wearing the orange and blue aren't the only victims of this hex. It's Elway himself who bares the brunt. Number 7's personal problems have been widely broadcast, and his business ventures largely unsuccessful--who can forget the flop of MVP.com?
On the field however, the Broncos seem to be voodoo-free this season and it shows in the stats. The additions of veteran safety John Lynch and cornerback Champ Bailey have helped the team become the top ranked overall defense, and sleepers Quentin Griffin and Rueben Droughns have combined to lead the league in rushing, with the Broncos racking up over 151 yards per game.
Entering week seven, the Broncos look strong, and let's not forget that despite the fact that the Broncos haven't made it past the first round of the playoffs in five seasons, the team has still remained among the NFL elite. The team has only experienced one losing season in nine years, and is among only a handful of teams to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
As Halloween quickly approaches, both "cursed" teams find themselves in favorable positions. The Broncos are poised to go 6-1 and the Red Sox are going to give the World Series one more try- heck things are even going well for Elway with the recent opening of his restaurant. Perhaps this is the perfect time to be the fan of a hexed organization, and maybe Halloween 2004 will mark the end of an era as the ghosts of Ruth and Elway will fade away into the crisp fall nights.
Stacey Glenn is a Sport Industry Operations Reporter/Intern from Metropolitan State College of Denver
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