It's a new season for the Denver Broncos and their fans, but some memories of the past will linger for a while. Attending the first training camp practice today, I wasn't really surprised when I saw many people wearing fresh, new Peyton Manning No. 18 jerseys. What I didn't expect was the very small number of Tim Tebow jerseys that I saw. In fact, I saw more people wearing No. 15 Brandon Marshall (now with the Chicago Bears) jerseys than Tebow ones.
It's not as if people have forgotten. I sat with a group of fans who bandied Tebow's name around for the 90 minutes I stayed with them. Every single person was glad to have Manning as their new quarterback, but some of the fans wished that Tebow was still on the team. Perhaps as a backup to Manning, or perhaps as a running back. There's still faith in the guy here in Denver with at least a portion of the fan base.
On the other hand, some of the fans I sat with also frequently remarked during practice how Tebow couldn't make the throws that Manning was completing. Tebow's accuracy and mechanical issues throwing were hot topics of conversation. Perhaps the most enlightening moment for the our group was when a Broncos employee (clearly wearing Broncos gear and standing next to the field) turned to us at one point after wide receiver Eric Decker dropped a perfect pass from Manning and said "you can't blame any of that on the quarterback anymore."
With every pass that Manning completes in the coming season, I think the memory of Tebow will grow weaker. The difference between the Broncos at training camp this year versus last year is striking for those of us who were at both. The difference in the offense even at this first practice and what they were putting on the field last year is obvious. While the Broncos still ran many running plays in practice today, the passing plays were completed a very high percentage of the time with Manning at quarterback.
Tebow will never be totally forgotten in Denver, but the arrival of Peyton Manning will certainly help to push it to the backs of fans' minds. No. 15 still has plenty of fans here in Denver that will no doubt follow him for the rest of his career. While no one lauds his throwing ability, they all clearly loved to watch him play.
Julie is a featured NFL contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. She began following and rooting for the Broncos upon moving to Denver in 2001.
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