I used to think my dad was friends with Dan Reeves. From the way he talked to the TV during Broncos games, I figured they were buddies. I imagined them meeting for lunch during the work week and occasionally going out for a beer. Reeves took over as head coach of the Broncos the same year I was born, and by then my dad was a committed Broncos fan. I didn’t know until this past Sunday that my dad (who grew up in the Bay Area) was a 49ers fan as a kid and even a Raiders fan for a bit before he moved to Denver. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s been a faithful Broncos fan, no matter how good or bad the team is.
When we showed up at my parents’ house for the game on Sunday, my dad had a batch of his famous salsa chilling in the fridge, a pot of jambalaya on the stove, and the fixings for buffalo chicken dip all ready to be tossed together. My favorite thing he was working on, though, were these treats I’ve named “Bean Dip Poppers”. I can remember eating these for as long as I can remember knowing my dad loves the Broncos, and they are delicious.
While he worked in the kitchen and I rifled through the trash looking for the lid to the bean dip can so my photos would look good, I asked my dad to tell me the story of his life as a Bronco fan. It goes back to his days as a visiting student athletic trainer at Stanford. My dad was a student at Cal State Hayward (now known as CSU East Bay) when some football coaches he’d known in high school recommended him as a student trainer to cover an open position for part of the summer at Stanford. Apparently someone had missed the fact that the incoming freshmen trainers wouldn’t be arriving on campus early enough to be there when football started, so my dad got to fill in and work (as much as a student trainer does with a head coach) with John Ralston, who would later become the head coach of the Broncos.
According to my dad, Stanford was one of only a few schools that had a degree program in athletic training at the time and, had he stayed in California, he would have applied and likely gotten in.
Instead, he joined a band and hit the road.
My dad and his siblings were a touring band for a number of years in the 70s, and the music is what ultimately led my mom and dad to meet each other. Once the band settled in Denver (after doing things like USO tours in Europe), they had a standing gig at the restaurant where my mom worked as a server, and the rest is the history that explains my existence.
When I asked my dad if he remembered when he officially became a Broncos fan, he told me he and my mom got to go to a number of the home games when they were dating because my mom’s parents had season tickets. That, coupled with the fact that John Ralston (who he'd worked with at Stanford) was the coach, made him take an interest in his new hometown team.
One of my favorite things about my dad’s history as a Broncos fan is that he and his band recorded a song with former Bronco John Keyworth in 1977. Legend has it that during the 1977 AFC Championship pre-game show, NBC aired a live performance of the song at Keyworth’s restaurant, and my mom and her sister were in the audience. I tried contacting NBC Sports to ask if they have video proof of this event, but no one got back to me. When I was a kid, my dad would play the 45 of ‘Make Those Miracles Happen’ over and over for me and my siblings. He had us convinced that if we believed in miracles and wiggled our noses when the song ended, the record would magically start playing again. We were too young to realize his record player had a “repeat” function.
And as tough as it was to watch the Super Bowl last weekend, I hoped for a miracle all the way to the end. I’m sure some part of my nature that believes in miracles could be attributed to my dad’s record player trickery when I was a small, impressionable child. But even now that I’m a grown-up with a complete understanding of the record player’s repeat function, my dad’s still able to guide me, to give me perspective. When I said I felt like I might want to stay in bed all day on Monday and asked him if he felt sad, he said “Nah, there’s no reason to be sad. The sun’ll come up tomorrow.”
Bean Dip Poppers
1 can Frito’s Original Flavor Bean Dip
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
1 bag of Fritos Scoops Corn Chips
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1) In a small bowl, mix the worcestershire sauce, garlic, and lemon into the bean dip.
2) Spoon dip into chips, then place them onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle cheese over the top of each chip.
3) Broil the chips for a few minutes, until the cheese is melted. Let cool long enough to avoid burning your mouth. Enjoy!
One of my goals for 2014 is to write one “Have At It” post per month, to include a story from my dad’s life with one of his recipes. I figure if nothing else, it will give me some motivation to get serious about getting my dad’s stories down, even if I have to write them myself.
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