Fans’ true colors shining through

Broncos, Steelers followers brace for Sunday's game

Melinda Mawdsley

When cut, humans usually bleed a deep red color. But not Drew Williams.

“I bleed black and gold,” Williams said.

Williams, owner of Strictly Blinds in Steamboat Springs, was born and raised a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Living in the Rocky Mountains has done nothing to diminish his love for the Steelers.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m still getting tickets,” Williams said about Sunday’s AFC Championship game between his beloved Steel–ers and the Denver Broncos. “Whatever face value is, I’d pay double.”

Tickets for the game in Denver are sold out. On the eBay Web site Friday, one seller was asking $10,000 for his two seats, but most bids were in the $600 to $1,000 range.

Cord Beaty, an employee at B&K Distributing, attends several Broncos games every season, but he won’t be at Invesco Field at Mile High on Sunday. He will be in Oak Creek, wearing his retro orange John Lynch jersey while watching the game on the 52-inch TV in his 150-square-foot “Broncos room.”

“It’s my little shrine,” he said. “I’m the biggest fan.”

Beaty’s “little shrine” includes Broncos memorabilia dating to the 1960s. He has game jerseys, signed helmets and a foosball table adorned with Broncos stickers.

“That’s for halftime,” he said. “Once I started collecting as a kid, it got out of control from there. I’ve been saturated with Broncos.”

Not surprisingly, Beaty thinks Denver will win Sunday and advance to the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in Detroit. The Broncos haven’t lost at home this season, and the Steelers won’t end that streak Sunday, he said.

Williams, however, is confident Pittsburgh will come out on top. Sunday’s game airs at 1 p.m. on CBS.

“I feel like (the Broncos) have a great chance,” Beaty said. “I feel like they have the toughest defense out of all the teams left.”

His prediction: Denver 24, Pittsburgh 10.

“I’m so ready,” Beaty said. “I just got done making a snow pile flat to hang a Denver Broncos banner out in my yard.”

It will be hard for the Broncos to win without starting quarterback Jake Plummer, Williams said.

“Jake Mistake will be on the sidelines by the end of the first quarter,” Williams said. “It will be a classic grind-it-out game. I think (Pittsburgh’s) defense will score at least seven points.”

His prediction: Pittsburgh 27, Broncos 6.

With so much hype, so much at stake and so many Broncos and Steelers fans living in Steamboat, bar and restaurant owners are prepping for a busy weekend.

“It’s obviously good business,” Slopeside Grill manager Nathan Wells said. “We have our Steelers regulars and the obvious Broncos fans. It’s always a good crowd. Both are always really happy when they win and really sad when they lose.”

Slopeside opens at 11 a.m.

The Tap House opens at 11:30 a.m., and employee John Casey also is expecting a spirited crowd.

“When it’s something big like Sunday, I feel like it will fill pretty quickly,” he said. “We should be full 15 to 20 minutes after opening.”

In addition to the obvious places to watch Sunday’s game, there is a new venue holding its official opening on “Championship Sunday.” The Steamboat Springs Mountain Theater will show the game on a big screen.

“I couldn’t have dreamt it, but we are psyched,” co-owner Scott Parker said about a football-themed theater opening. “I’m rooting my tail off for the Broncos. The Super Bowl party is already on the calendar no matter who is playing. It would be so much nicer if it was the Broncos.”

The doors open at noon for the game, and the new theater — in the former Mountain Movie space in Ski Time Square — serves beer and wine and will have appetizers.

“We aren’t a sports bar, and we have no desire to be, but it should be fun,” Parker said.

The NFC Championship game between Seattle and Carolina begins at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

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