Watching sports on TV is supposed to be entertaining. It is not supposed to give you a heart attack.
Which is why I have to find a new rooting interest. The Denver Broncos are going to kill me.
Five weeks into the NFL season, the Broncos were 1-4. They were a bad team, and we native Denverites who live in Los Angeles were happy that their incompetence could be seen on TV only by local residents, which, in NFLand, includes Bismarck, North Dakotans, who got to watch the Broncos lose to the Titans on Sept. 25 while Angelenos saw Kansas City at San Diego. On Oct. 2, the suburban Denverites of Tulsa, Oklahoma, got to watch the Broncos go down to the Green Bay Packers while we saw New England at Oakland.
They were a bad team, so they scapegoated quarterback Kyle Orton to the bench, tossed a hail-Mary Tim Tebow into the huddle and began the campaign to test the limits of my health insurance coverage.
Yes, I'm taking it personally.
The Broncos are still terrible. But now, they're also dangerous because they're winning by coming from behind, always in the final minutes of the game, often in overtime. Once in a while, this is fun, like sports are supposed to be. But doing this every week is life-threatening. If Tim Tebow is the God-fearing perfect child everyone claims, why is he unfamiliar with the Sixth Commandment? Why is he trying to kill me by completing only one pass per half until the two-minute warning? Doesn't he know that the 15 minutes of fame you get covers your whole lifetime, not the last quarter of every football game you play?
Thanks to their 8-5 record, the Broncos are all over national TV not because America loves a winner but because America loves a drama king and the NFL loves the beer company revenue that enables him. If you are a Denver Broncos fan and if the Broncos are on TV in your area, you have to watch. It's the law. After the season--or maybe after this weekend--possibly my survivors can sue the deep-pocket league as complicit in my demise.
It's a slow death. On Nov. 17, the Broncos bested the New York Jets 17-13 with a 20-yard touchdown run by Tebow with 28 seconds left in the game. The next game, against San Diego on Nov. 27, ended in a 16-13 Bronco victory with 29 seconds left in overtime. On Dec. 4, the Broncos came from behind with two scores in the final 93 seconds to beat Minnesota 35-32 as time expired. And last Sunday, Dec. 11, was another overtime 13-10 win over Chicago that required a 59-yard field goal to tie with three seconds left in regulation. I now realize that the "sudden-death" aspect of overtime describes not the teams on the field but the fans in the living room. The L.A. Times called this game Tebow's "weekly miracle." I call it my weekly cardiac adventure.
After that game, NBC reportedly tried to blitz CBS, which has the rights to broadcast this week's Denver-New England game Sunday afternoon. NBC wanted to air it Sunday evening, a far more appropriate time slot for a long-running dramatic serial. The NFL declined to accommodate the peacock (which, rumor has it, might have something to do with CBS' ownership of a restaurant at the Patriots headquarters), but the threat to my health is unaffected: Except for New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Arizona, at this writing the afternoon game will air everywhere else in the lower 48 as well as Alaska and Hawaii.
Did I mention that the Broncos are a bad team? Did you notice that in only one of their last five victories they scored higher than the mid-teens? Watching them play football for 3 1/2 quarters is like watching somebody else's grade-schooler play soccer. People run around a lot. Nothing happens. Then, as time ticks toward "Did-the-Colts-lose-and-are-we-still-in-the-hunt-for-Andrew-Luck," suddenly, Tim Tebow answers a lower authority, the Broncos threaten to score, and I am yelling at the TV so loud the neighbors are calling the cops.
They should be calling the paramedics. This team is killing me.