“If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?”
― George Carlin

In his 1886 novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, British novelist Robert Louis Stevenson spins the tale of a man so obsessed with repressing his baser urges in Victorian England that he creates a serum to repress his badness. Instead, he ends up splitting his personality, and eventually ripping himself apart. His diametrically opposed sides simply cannot successfully co-exist. While maybe not as famous in its day as his other works such as Treasure Island and Kidnapped, the dark and terrifying imagery of the dual sides of our personalities becoming whole and combative endures iconographically to this day. Even if you can’t remember whether the bad guy was Jekyll or Hyde at this point, you still get the metaphor. In the end, things don’t go well.

It’s funny in retrospect that the Super Bowl-winning teams the Denver Broncos have fielded are remembered as the teams of Elway and Manning. While certainly the faces figureheads of those teams, neither was the primary cause for their teams successes by the time they finally found them. The Super Bowl Broncos that got there on Elway’s back always ended up falling short of the prize. It was the balanced teams of Terrell Davis, Steve Atwater, Shannon Sharpe, and Neil Smith that finally got Denver over the hump in back-to-back seasons. Elway may have been the name at the top of the marquee, but the personality of those teams was grit and patience and control of both sides of the line. They were all in alignment.

In M. Night Shymalan’s impressive effort Split, James McAvoy plays a villain who suffers from dissociative identity disorder (DID, formerly known as split personality disorder) of the highest order. McAvoy’s performance as a man battling with 23 unique personalities was one of the triumphs of his career. But the tale of the man with a litany of internal battles eventually doesn’t end so well, even if it takes another film to finally finish that arc. Highly unsurprising spoiler alert.

When Manning came to Denver, he was certainly and rightfully hailed as the second coming of a sheriff into town. But the NFL’s-most-historically-prolific-offense-as-headed-by-Peyton wasn’t what carried the Broncos to their next championship, even though it did get them to a Super Bowl. Fans remembering those teams through a rose-colored set of lenses may forget that Manning was a shadow of himself in his last year, simply using his prodigious smarts and a historic defense to keep his team above the fray. The championship-winning squad of Peyton’s Last Stand may have had Manning on the marquee were actually the Broncos of Von Miller, Demaryius Thomas, Demarcus Ware, and Aqib Talib. The team’s personality was decidedly all spinning in the same direction.

In the seminal film adapted from the bestselling novel The Three Faces of Eve, actress Joanne Woodward won an Oscar for her portrayal of real-life DID sufferer Chris Sizemore, a woman whose self had been shattered by an early childhood trauma and who led a troubled and traumatic life until she was finally able to find a way to re-consolidate herself, and find a way back to single someone. As long as she was diametrically opposed, there was no way for her to move forward.

When the Broncos new-sheriff-in-town-v3 came to town in the form of Russell Wilson, there was a huge amount of rejoicing. Denver’s defense had been vaunted and growing for seasons, and the idea of a boost of talent, rigor, and energy on the offensive side of the ball was a tantalizing mirage for the faithful fans that have been missing the more competitive days of Broncos football.

But what’s come to pass instead has been a split of epic proportion. The inequity has been growing, but was first shown in the light of a Ryan Koenigsberg tweet that caught fire and simplified just how historically inept the now 3-6 Broncos are…

Thursday, Fox Sports went ahead and made the math of the situation a little more clear:
Co-opting a competitors graphics aside, it’s abundantly clear why the Broncos are struggling, and on which side of the ball. While their defensive metric isn’t anything historic, it’s got them clearly in the first slot, though only by 0.2 PPG.

Their offensive metric, on the other hand, is well over a point (1.2 PPG) behind the next-best mark on the list. While it is also not a ineptitude at a historic level, it is completely antithetical to the direction on the defensive side and to the long term hopes of the team. As we crossed over into the second half of the season last week, the team showed very few signs that those diametrically opposed arcs would end up converging, at least this year. The team, for lack of a better word, is decidedly split.

There’s a whole body of books, movies, and television shows exploring the idea of the split personality, from Sybill and Identity to Primal Fear and Fight Club, the stories of the split sides of us are legion. Shutter Island, Me, Myself, & Irene, Psycho, The Machinist, The Shining, Black Swan, Secret Window… on and on and on. In every one of these stories, whether drama, horror, comedy, or satire, there is a simple truth.

As long as your personalities are divided, you cannot win in this world. These Broncos are doomed to this fate as long as they are split.


Mike Olson is a weekly columnist for DNVR. The Colorado State University alum was born and raised in Fort Collins and has been writing about Denver sports for the last eight years. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he has an unhealthy addiction to In-n-Out Burgers and a healthy aversion to the Lakers.

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