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A Broncos horror story: The Legend of Brockenstein

John Reidy Avatar
October 30, 2015


Just-my-take (1)It was Halloween and the year was 2047. We were all gathered in my kitchen telling spooky stories. We had invited some friends to bring their kids over to trick or treat and after they were done, the adults would have some grown up beverages as the children tore through their treat bags. After a few non GMO Pumpkin Ale Craft beers, the parents were loosening up and trying to outdo each other with the scariest story possible.

One guy had just told the tried and true tale of the hitchhiker who came back from the dead to get revenge on the person who killed them, but with a twist: the hitchhiker was really their sense of accomplishment in life. I didn’t really get it either.

As the supply of stories started to run out of steam, my father who came to the party to take his grandkids trick or treating, was off in the corner of the kitchen, sipping wine and listening politely. When it seemed like no one else had a story to tell, he cleared his throat.

“Looks like some of you are Denver Broncos fans,” he started. It was true, several of the people were wearing Broncos gear. And someone even wore the new and universally reviled “wacky robot horse” logo that had become such a bone of contention with fans. Probably just being ironic.

“Well I’ve got a very scary story involving the Denver Broncos,” he said.

The kitchen became still as everyone turned to listen. The only sound was coming from kids in the other room, gleefully stuffing candy in their faces. And a clip of the Denver Broncos Sunday loss to the Los Angeles Rams of Studio City was oddly enough playing on the virtual hologram screen in the corner.

“Most of you were probably just children at the time, but I was there the night Peyton Manning died.”

The silence in the kitchen was like a ringing in my ears. “It was the night before the Packers game, on Halloween just like tonight.” Some of those gathered there nodded gravely. It was 32 years ago to the night and even though those listening were mere babies at the time, it lived in infamy of American sports lore.

Peyton Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time had died mysteriously on Halloween night, 2015 in a car crash but there wasn’t much time to mourn. The Packers were in town the very next night and the show had to go on. Brock Osweiler, the young upstart QB who was patiently waiting for his shot, was forced into duty that very next game. What happened next was the most amazing chapter of Denver Broncos history: Osweiler went on to not only win the Super Bowl for the Broncos that year, but three more before he retired in 2029. Everyone at the party certainly grew up knowing the name of Brock Osweiler and what he did as a Denver Bronco.

“I was working as an assistant to the equipment manager,” my father continued. “I was there late on that Saturday, and was ordered by an executive to drop what I was doing and assist with something down in a basement area of Dove Valley I had never been before.”

This was also true. My father had worked for the Denver Broncos right when he had met my mother but rarely talked about his time there. He always told us it wasn’t for him and he needed to find a better job to take care of the family he was planning to have. It was so long ago, I never really bothered to ask him about it. But now I found it odd that he had stopped working there right before the incredible surge the team experienced.

“When I got down to the basement, I was told to help move something large onto a gurney. It was very heavy and lumpy but it was wrapped with such heavy material, I couldn’t tell what it was.” He paused to take a drink of wine. No one breathed. “The man I was helping was sweating profusely and was agitated like he had just done a huge line of blow.”

A few of the assembled parents looked at each other sideways and smiled awkwardly before my father continued.

“He told me to not tell anyone what I would see down there and after I left that night, I was to forget I was even there. He told me I would receive a very nice bonus if I kept my mouth shut. Since I was already pushing something potentially felonious down a hallway I didn’t know existed until now, I figured I was already nipples deep in this anyway.”

Everyone chuckled and he said, “but the extra money I would receive was not enough compensation once I saw what was behind that door.”

Now my father paused so long, I thought he had maybe forgotten where he was going with this. I certainly had never heard this story before and I figured he was just making it up as he went along. I was about to prompt him and he started up again.

“What I saw when we rolled through that door haunts me till this day. There were two surgeons, splattered with blood, hunkered over two makeshift operating tables. John Elway himself stood in the corner not saying a word. And on one of the tables was Brock Osweiler with the top of his head open. His brain sitting in a nearby stainless steel pan.”

One of the people in my kitchen gasped. My dad took this time to have another drink. Concerned that he was becoming unhinged from reality, I started to speak, but he stopped me with a wave of his hand.

“And in the heavy bag we were carrying, was the body of Peyton Manning.”

“Whaaaaaa?” Someone said off to the side.

“Yes. Peyton Manning. He had been killed in a car crash just an hour before. They rushed his body to the Broncos facility and were preparing to put his brain in the body of Brock Osweiler.”

Silence from the crowd.

“This was apparently a plan put in place shortly after Manning was signed by the Broncos. They would use him in his current form and when his body would no longer cooperate, they would take that beautiful football brain and put it in the young, strong vessel that was Brock. That’s why Brock never saw the field. They wanted to keep his body perfectly intact for this moment.”

“Once I helped lug Peyton’s body up on to the operating table, I was ushered out of the room, told once again, not to say anything and went home for the night. And just like I was promised, I had $20, 000 deposited into my account the very next day.”


“So wait a minute,” a guy named Paul said. “You’re telling me that Brock Osweiler, the guy who won four Super Bowls for the Broncos, had Peyton Manning’s brain in his body?”

“That’s what I’m saying.”

“And what did they do with Brock’s brain?” Someone to the side of Paul asked.

“Didn’t anyone find it odd that Peyton willed all of his Papa John’s franchises to Brock?” My father asked. “Maybe the brain was used as a topping on a special pizza in his honor.” He laughed at his macabre suggestion.

Everyone grimaced and the thought hung in the air like an especially bad fart.

“It’s no secret that Brock spent a lot of time with Peyton’s kids after that. Took over his investments and most of his commercial endorsements. Go back and watch some preseason games from before that,” he said. “And you tell me if Brock Osweiler could win four Super Bowls without Peyton Manning’s brain in his body.”

The partygoers nodded, had a chuckle about and politely let my weird father get back to his wine.

I pulled my dad aside before the end of the night and asked him, “You alright dad? That story was -wow. How is that anyway anchored in reality?”

“You guys wanted a scary story. I told you one. The end of Manning’s career was a Broncos Horror Story for most of us, but him getting a new body to work with was a happy ending.”

I stared at him for a moment, not knowing if he was being serious or not. He thanked me for a lovely evening where he saw his grandkids and got to freak out some squares and went home.

Once everyone was gone, I dialed up that Broncos/Packers game from years ago and watched it on my portable hologram television. Brock never took his helmet off on the sideline and during the tearful post-game press conference where the seemingly deceased Peyton Manning was eulogized, he wore a hat. But I detected a slight southern drawl in his voice that wasn’t there before, occasionally bubbling to the surface. And once I enhanced the video I made a chilling discovery: a glimpse of an incision on his forehead and a small bead of blood welling up on the surface that no one would have thought twice about 32 years ago.

Peyton Manning lives.


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