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A Dad, A Daughter, and Their Love for the Denver Broncos

John Elway Broncos

By Dr. Ashleigh Huffman, CSPS Assistant Director 

Why do I love the Denver Broncos? Is it their bone-crushing defense? Is it the deafening sound of Mile High Stadium? Is it their Tennessee tie to my favorite quarterback, Peyton Manning? Sure, in time, these things have become part of the equation. But ultimately, no. These are not the reasons why Orange and Navy runs through my veins.

I love the Broncos because my dad loves the Broncos. My brother loves the Broncos. Heck, even my mom loves them. It’s what we do as a family. As a 10-year old girl, I remember running passing routes in the front yard with my dad and brother. My dad was always legendary quarterback, John Elway. My brother and I would swap out playing offense and defense, becoming Shannon Sharpe, Ed McCaffrey, Steve Atwater, or the beast, inside linebacker, Bill Romanowski. We would take turns running slants, hooks, hitch ‘n’ go’s, and out routes to the “end zone.” And when the Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and ‘98, I’m certain it was our cheering from the basement that got them there.

Ashleigh and Football Family

Dr. Huffman with her uncle and father as a girl

I love the Broncos because it reminds me of a time and place, a nostalgic moment in my life with my family. A time when kids played outside. A time when family fun was free. A time when neighborhoods were safe. A time when imagination and creativity were the order of the day. A time when organized sport was not a substitute for parenting.

I love the Broncos because running routes as a little girl in a neighborhood full of boys was empowering and inclusive. It was my way of fitting in. It was physical literacy and social currency. I was learning how to navigate the world as an athletically-minded girl in a sea full of fellas.

I love the Broncos because when they play, my family dresses accordingly. And we find a place to watch it. Then we text each other throughout the game, commenting on our cover defense or our passing game or the play calling from the booth. We cheer together, we throw things at the TV together, and we pull out our hair together. So even though we live in three different states, hundreds of miles apart, Bronco Sundays unite us.


A typical Huffman family text message conversation on Broncos gamedays

So ultimately, I love the Broncos because they are my story – the story of a young girl who grew up idolizing her dad, learning football to fit in with the boys, and realizing the power of sport to create connection. I hope we can find a way to recreate this world, one where parents are the heroes, gender doesn’t define sport, and we all feel a bit more connected to our families and communities.

As the saying goes in Denver, the same holds true for the Center: We believe.