DENVER — Immediately following a ham sandwich lunch he munched alongside good buddy Von Miller, the showman pondered a question that probably hasn’t been pondered often enough.
Is Aqib Talib on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
“Have a good game on Sunday against the Cowboys,” Talib said when I asked how he plans to get there. “That would be the first step.”
With that, Talib was off — to where, I don’t know. To yank somebody’s chain from their neck. To study (even more) film of Cowboys star receiver Dez Bryant. To rest and prepare for a marquee game — Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos — that seems custom made for an entertainer like Talib.
Forget the juicy matchups that brings the FOX “A” team of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews to clean up the broadcast mess left behind by ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew. Here’s all you need to quantify what Sunday’s game means to a lot of people. The average ticket price: $504.59, according to my friends at TickPick. That’s right. For the cost of airfare and two nights at an all-inclusive resort in Cabo San Lucas, you, too, can attend a pro football game! Or you can plop down $71.87 to check out Titans-Jaguars.
With the Star in town, the stars for the Broncos must play up to their reputation. That includes Talib, a Dallas resident who wants little more than to show out for friends, family and enablers back home. His all-business approach to Cowboys week showed this game’s import to him.
In Week One, the Chargers rolled into Mile High Stadium with a clear-and-effective gameplan: avoid the likes of Miller, Talib and Chris Harris Jr. and remove Denver’s defensive star power from the equation.
But few athletes in pro sports finagle their way into the spotlight quite as well as Aqib Talib. In their conversations about the Hall of Fame — yes, they have those conversations — Harris and Talib know it’s sheer numbers that separate Hall of Fame defensive backs from really good defensive backs when tiptoe-ing the thin line of induction.
No cornerback's had more interceptions than Talib's 33 since his rookie season in 2008. His nine interceptions returned for a touchdown already equal those of Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Aeneas Williams and trail all-time pick-6 leader Rod Woodson by three. Don't look now. Talib's on his way.
“I think he’s right there on the cusp,” Harris said of Talib, his teammate at the University of Kansas and with the Broncos. “We always talk about it — you’ve got to get those 15, 16 years. You look at all the DBs on there, they’ve played that many years. That’s what it takes.”
And if we’re being honest, who doesn’t want to see what Talib comes up with as he gives a Hall of Fame speech?
“A lot of them have at least one (Super Bowl win),” Harris said. “If you’ve got two, that kind of (clinches) it.”
There have been some doozies lately — Brady-Manning comes to mind — but Sunday's is the most expensive regular-season ticket that I can remember at Sports Authority Field.
What gives? One, it’s the Cowboys, whose proud and widespread fanbase is one of the few that can outdistance Broncos Country and has waited for a Colorado return since a defeat in 2009. Two, the Broncos have enacted a new policy of stripping season tickets from fans who don’t use them.
“In doing so, they reduced the number of tickets on the secondary market, leading to much higher prices,” a Tickpick spokesman said.
The Peyton Manning era in Colorado offered a sneak peek at the traveling football circus the Cowboys encounter every week on the road. From Cincinnati to San Diego to, yes, Dallas, Broncos Country routinely filled road stadiums with No. 18 jerseys and orange spirit. One of the best examples took place at AT&T Stadium against the Cowboys in 2013, when Jerry World must have been 40 percent in favor of the visiting team. At one point, a country music concert erupted at one end of the stadium, while the Cowboys cheerleaders put on a show at the other. Oh yeah, and there was a game on the field. No one in football does showbiz like the Dallas Cowboys.
The Broncos' star power, including Talib, is the key to making the experience worth the price of admission. It’s a hefty one to pay, for sure.