A 14-3 season, a first round playoff bye and a slot in the AFC Championship certainly has its perks, but for a few select Denver Broncos those perks extend to their wallets as well.
Both Jake Plummer and John Lynch have incentive laden contracts which, by way of a division title and a chance at the AFC Championship, will net the duo quite a hefty sum.
In Lynch's case, the thirteen-year veteran will grab a nice $25G bonus thanks to a clause which would be paid should the team advance to the playoffs.
Plummer' contract takes it a step further, with a $250,000 built in bonus if the team advanced to the AFC Championship or if he was selected to the Pro Bowl. Now that he's accomplished both, he's got one-quarter million dollars in addition to his regular salary, thank you Mr. Bowlen.
This of course doesn't include the regular take home pay for all participants in the AFC Championship game who, regardless of a win or a loss, will pocket a cool $32,500.
ORANGE FRIDAY -
In between a playfull snowball fight, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper publicly proclaimed Friday, Jan. 20, as "Orange Friday." Broncos fans across the state are encouraged to wear "orange" in a show of support for the Broncos and their quest for an AFC Championship.
"The Denver Broncos have been a great community partner to this city and this state," said Hickenlooper, "and this is our chance to show the Broncos how much we care and how much we value their success."
Of course they value their success, as the Broncos go, so goes Denver's revenue, and with back to back home playoff games that share could play out huge.
The Mayor went on to add; "If you look at the revenues that are coming into the city and into the state as a result of these two playoff games, and, more than that, the power that it brings to what our brand is, and how people in other states and other cities, across the country and indeed across the world, how they think about Denver."
THE AGONY OF DEFEAT -
Somehow Steelers' receiver Hines Ward can't seem to shake the memory of what it feels like to fall short in an AFC Championship.
Last season the eight-year veteran brought in a league best 15-1 record only to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and a 41-27 loss.
"Last year I really thought we had the best team in the league," Ward said. "To go 15-1, and being pretty dominant, to fall one game short it was very disappointing overall."
Disappointing is almost an understatement. Ward became a television poster boy as he sat weeping on the sidelines after the loss. Those same shots soon found themselves in heavy rotation across ESPN during the following week.
"My heart went out [to Jerome Bettis]. I told Jerome this year I'm not going to cry for him. A lot of guys were hard on me for crying on TV."
For Ward, Sunday marks another chance. Another chance for the Steelers, another chance for
Ward and another chance to make good for the Bus.
"We're one game away. All Jerome asked for was another opportunity and we've done that. Not only do we want to win for ourselves, but we want to win for Jerome because he deserves it."
RIDING THE BANDWAGON –
For those of you who just can't seem to get enough Broncos coverage on local television, CBS affiliate KCNC-Channel 4 is busting out with a barrage of specials, just in time for Sunday's 1:00 pm kickoff.
Over the next two day the station is offering up the following –
"Drive 4 the Championship" - Putting on your game face (6:30 p.m. Friday).
"Broncos Countdown to Kickoff" – with Steve Atkinson, Vic Lombardi and Gary Miller (6 p.m. Saturday).
"The Mike Shanahan Show" - The coach speaks (6:30 p.m. Saturday)
"Broncos Countdown to Kickoff" - Warming up, including a repeat of Saturday's "Mike Shanahan Show" and the pregame show from Invesco Field at Mile High with Atkinson, Lombardi and Miller (10 a.m.-noon Sunday).
AFC Championship Game (1 p.m. Sunday)
Postgame coverage and CBS4News (4:30 p.m. Sunday)
"Broncos All Access" - A wrap-up, with interviews, as part of the station's hour-long newscast at 10 p.m. Sunday
FAST FACTS –
…Three of the four starting quarterbacks this weekend will be in the 2006 Pro Bowl, including Ben Roethlisberger, who is the first quarterback since the 1970 merger to play in a conference championship game in each of his first two seasons.
…Since the 2000 season, a total of 21 teams have played three consecutive road games in the postseason. Of those 21, only two have won all three games, the Jacksonville Jaguars, both times, first in 2001 and then again in 2005. This Sunday, both Pittsburgh and Carolina will be playing in their third consecutive road game of this postseason.
…The Broncos are 4-0 in AFC Championship games at home, defeating the New York Jets in 1998, Cleveland in '89 and '87, and Oakland in '77. They also hold a 12-2 mark in home playoff games, and finished the 2005 regular season undefeated at 9-0.
THE BARTER SYSTEM -
According to an ad placed on craigslist.com, a Fort Collins doctor has offered to give a free vasectomy, including pre- op and post-op visits and lab exams - a value of $675 - in exchange for a pair of tickets for Sunday's AFC Championship.
The only bite he's gotten so far came from a man looking for a reversal vasectomy, which unfortunately the doctor does not do.
The Denver Post tracked down a fan that is willing to give up a half-carat diamond solitaire ring, valued at $2,195.00, which he had purchased as a Valentines Day gift for his wife.
The Post reports he would make the trade without her knowledge, of course, which is why he declined to provide his last name.
Can you blame him?
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past nine years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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