THIS trip has given me a lot of new experiences and today was yet another one.
After a gradually increasing work load, we are starting to adjust to the altitude and we’re really feeling the difference.
Most of today’s training involved swimming and keeping us off our legs. Personally I always find it’s good to get into the pool and really give the lungs a working over.
After a good morning session it was on the bus to Sports Authority Stadium, Mile High to watch the Denver Broncos take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I’m a big NFL fan but don’t really have a set team that I follow. That might all change now after the welcome the Broncos have given us this week.
Our whole squad secured tickets to the game and as a special favour they allowed us on the sidelines pre-match. It was unbelievable to see both teams going through their last-minute preparation up close then get the chance to watch them play.
I’ve been looking forward to this game for a while now.
I’m rooming with Leigh Montagna and for the first few days when our body clocks were adjusting to American time we would both tend to wake up at around 3am.
So we’d turn the TV on and have what we called our late-night picnics. Soon enough conversation would always turn to the game we were going to attend.
Standing on the sidelines pre-game was a fairly special privilege for all of us, but one of my teammates got even more than he bargained for.
The Broncos’ kicker Matt Prater was jogging past us and he obviously remembered a couple of the boys from the meet and greet the other day and waved hello.
He accidentally dropped the ball and Adam Schneider went to pick it up. Just as he was about to toss it back, Matt told him not to worry about it and to keep it. I don’t think Schneids will be letting go of that any time soon.
Not long after that, we glanced up at the big screens to see our mugs all over them.
I found it hilarious to see blokes who appear on big stadium screens 22 weeks a year suddenly get all excited and point and wave at the cameras.
When we moved to the stands, I made sure I studied Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning particularly closely and took notice of how much of a perfectionist he is.
Not only that but he seems to really celebrate his successes and you can see how pumped he is when he throws a touchdown. He might be one of the highest paid players in the NFL but I could tell that the main reason he’s doing what he is doing is because he loves the game.
That’s the fundamental reason why any footballer of any code should do what they do.
The other thing that struck me was just how active and vocal the crowd was. The crowd was 74,000 and only a very small percentage of them were Buccaneers fans. There was a sea of Denver orange and they made an incredible amount of noise, sometimes just to put pressure on Tampa Bay more than anything else.
While we have enjoyed our time watching some elite sport that we otherwise wouldn’t have seen, no one is losing sight of the true reason we are here.
Our training regime is starting to really ramp up now that we have all acclimatised and I’m getting the feeling that the work load is going to get more and more intense. Bring it on.