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Broncos fans cheer for their team against The Chargers during the second half Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver. The Broncos won 23-20. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Broncos jersey. Check.

Beer. Check.

Tailgating attitude. Oh heck yeah, check.

We’re ready for some football, one of America’s favorite reasons to tune in, (end) zone out, and dial down all the other noise for a few hours.

The fact that kickoff is happening in the middle of a pandemic will be kind of hard to ignore, though.

Stands will be empty of fans at the Denver Broncos’ season opener Sept. 14 at Empower Field at Mile High, with canned crowd noises likely supplied via cheer-track.

Sports bars are open and some certainly will be showing the game on big screens, but you might have to call ahead, or face a waiting list, to get a seat. The old scene — of demonstrative crowds, packed houses and communal bowls of snacks — is a no-no in the socially distant era of the coronavirus.

Suffice it to say, most of us will be watching the game from home. You know, the place where we’ve done pretty much everything else for six months.

But there are upsides. No long lines for the bathroom, or to buy an overpriced stadium beer and nachos you’re probably going to spill on the way back to your seat.

At home, you won’t have to deal with the one jerk who doesn’t care about football, but shows up at the bar just to root for the opposing team. Everybody hates that guy. (And if he joins the virtual watch party, you can mute him.)

So pull up a chair (preferably one with no back, a wood seat and one leg shorter than the others) and consider a couple of tips that can help tap the old school game-watching vibe:

Three words: Red. Plastic. Cups.

You know your local is having a good night when this is what your next beer arrives in, rather than a pint glass. Beer pong may be off the table, for obvious reasons, but there’s still nothing like a red plastic cup to channel the bygone sporting days.

It’s the great beer equalizer. In such an outfit, anything could be Coors.

Pitcher this:

Few things say sports bar like one of those scalloped plastic pitchers filled with pale beer, slowly warming and going flat. If you don’t already have one, maybe now’s the time to expand your kitchen collection.

Your watching bubble will appreciate the touch.

Tiny pretzels.

They’re the grandma’s hard candy of the sports bar world, but (largely, thanks to beer) they actually get eaten. Serve them in a shallow bowl that must be refilled constantly.

For a finishing touch, spill a few on the floor, and step on them.

Then put your feet up (you’re at home, so that’s totally kosher!), and get lost in the game.


Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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