DENVER — Covered in orange-and-blue Broncos gear, the three boys surrounded their father's locker inside Sports Authority Field on Sunday.
One played with an IPad. One hung from Dad’s leg. The other confirmed every child’s belief: “Yes,” in fact, he has been good this year.
"He's right," Dad, aka Brandon, revealed. "Lots of presents at the Stokley household."
But what to get the state that has everything?
For its sports fans, here’s a wish list — the 12 gifts of (a Colorado) Christmas:
Missy Franklin — A stopwatch. The timing of her smile was always perfect. The four-time gold medalist stopped our hearts with each breathless performance at the London Olympics. Her senior swimming season at Denver Regis Jesuit begins after the New Year. Colorado’s sportsperson of the year turns 18 in May.
John Fox — Contract extension. Ego often prevents a coach from adjusting his system. In roughly five months, Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy overhauled an offense to fit Tim Tebow (named the starter on Oct. 12, 2011) and Peyton Manning (agreed to a contract on March 20). Flexibility is a virtue, and Fox, whose 58th birthday arrives five days after the Super Bowl, has been the right coach at the right time for the Broncos.
Donald Fehr — Stocking of coal. What do the 1994 MLB strike and the 2012-13 NHL lockout share in common? Fehr represented the players in both. MLB lost its World Series. The NHL doesn’t have baseball’s recovery power. Its season has been cancelled until Jan. 14. Save your Avalanche ticket money for Feb. 8, when CC hosts DU.
Tim Tebow — A Bible passage (Matthew 5:44). We get it. His passes wobble. Just one question for critics of the polarizing ex-Bronco: Is it his football or his faith that drive the personal attacks?
Von Miller — A clone. The minute Manning retires, the star linebacker transitions into the bespectacled face of the Broncos. Pat Bowlen couldn’t design a better ambassador. After one practice last week, Miller circled the locker room to shake the hand of each teammate. His sacks shake Mile High; his sack dances promise $1,000 to Von’s Vision, providing suitable eyecare for kids in need. Miller grasps QBs — and the big picture.
Colorado’s rivers — Snow. Shudder to consider the trout fisheries if the snowpack doesn’t increase. One look at Cheesman Reservoir suggests an anxious fly-fishing season is ahead.
Carmelo Anthony — Better memories. It is easier to remember the breakup than the courtship. Don’t forget: the Nuggets won 17 games the season prior to Melo’s arrival in Denver. He then unwrapped seven straight playoff appearances. His MVP-worthy season with the Knicks is another reminder: the Nuggets’ best season in history was courtesy of their best superstar in history. We won’t see another one until we see another one.
Rockies ownership — Help. If staying pat is the answer, don’t show us the question. This library-quiet offseason — following a franchise-worst 64-98 season — does nothing to support the notion winning is a priority. Even one of their finer moves — hiring Walt Weiss — was undermined with a bizarre one-year contract for the manager.
Troy Calhoun — A win in the Armed Forces Bowl. Six straight bowl games is nothing to scoff at. Just ask CU or CSU. They have two bowl appearances over that time — combined.
Roger Goodell — Beads and best wishes at the Super Bowl. New Orleans figures to have a cold welcome for the commissioner, whose allegations of a bounty program led to four player suspensions. It doesn’t matter that a miserable defense doomed their season more than Sean Payton’s absence. Fans aren’t rational. Let’s hope their reception of Goodell is.
Ralphie — Careful, girl. New legislation indicates the grass floating around Boulder might not be buffalo feed. Our suggestion: Graze, but beware of haze. And show Mike MacIntyre around. The coach has a football program to rebuild.
Zane Beadles — Yes, Colorado, there is a Santa Claus. He wears a healthy beard and No. 68, blocks for Manning and has a heart for helping others. The Broncos selected the left guard as their Walter Payton Man of the Year — the most important award in the NFL. “We don’t do this for the recognition," Beadles said. He’s right. He does it for kids like Rowan. He’s 1. He has Leukemia. Beadles paid for Rowan to spend 111 days at Brent's Place, a safe haven for families fighting cancer. Didn't you know? Zane Beadles is Santa Claus.
Denver sports columnist Paul Klee can be reached via email (email@example.com) or on Twitter (@Klee_Gazette).