If you thought your Broncos’ obsession was off-the-charts, rest assured you’re in great company.
There are passionate Broncos fans.
Then there are diehard Broncos fans.
And then there are ... obsessive “I WILL SCREAM AT YOU IF YOU INTERRUPT ME BECAUSE MY LIFE REVOLVES AROUND THIS GAME!!!!” Broncos fans.
That’s Brandon Quinn.
Quinn - a 40-year-old Colorado native making his way on the Big Screen in such popular TV series as “Rebel,” “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” and “The Fosters” as well as several appearances in “CSI,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Entourage” - loves the Broncos.
And when I say he loves the Broncos, I really mean that he LOOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEESSSSS the Broncos. To experience the full extent of Quinn’s passion for this team, listen to MHR Radio’s latest episode with hosts Adam Malnati and Ian St. Clair.
From Baker Mayfield to Kirk Cousins & free agency to the #NFL draft, huge #Broncos fan @TheBrandonQuinn & @docllv joined the @MileHighReport Radio Podcast. We also developed the "cool test" for all future players. https://t.co/8BghSk3Fak— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) February 8, 2018
“My kids know. I’m one of those guys that there is nothing I’d rather do than watch a Broncos game in a dark room by myself - ‘Don’t talk to me. I’m very busy right now,’” says the father of three. “It’s a flaw of mine.”
In fact, Quinn’s 12-year-old daughter who is also a diehard fan will often want to watch the games with her dad.
But she also “likes to ask 10 million questions” - and this is a problem for Quinn.
“Part of me is like, ‘This is amazing. My daughter is interested in football. This is WHY I had kids!’” Quinn says. “But the other part of me is like, ‘SHUT. UP. OMG, how do you NOT know that?’”
He laughs and admits that more than once he’s had to apologize to his daughter - “I’m not a perfect father.”
“I’m one of those guys that there is nothing I’d rather do than watch a Broncos game in a dark room by myself. Part of me is like, ‘This is amazing. My daughter is interested in football. This is WHY I had kids!’ But the other part of me is like, ‘SHUT. UP. OMG, how do you NOT know that?’” - Brandon Quinn
Quinn’s wife Rachel, a native Canadian, tolerates this obsession with incredible patience - and given her early experiences with Quinn and the Broncos, he admits it’s kind of amazing she stayed with him.
“Oh my wife hates football,” he says matter-of-factly. “So much so that when we first got married, she hated even the sound of football on TV. I felt weird watching a game, trying to enjoy it, knowing she hated it.”
So Quinn figured that if she experienced a Broncos game in person, everything would change. So he and Rachel and 10 buddies trekked to San Diego for a Chargers-Broncos game. His only mission was to make sure his wife had a great time.
“It was 40-effin degrees! It was ‘can’t-feel-your-fingers’ cold,” Quinn recalled.
That was strike one.
Strike two was sitting in the nose-bleeds, and strike three was that Quinn got “that one guy” who came to the Chargers-Broncos game in his Raiders jersey.
“I grew up a fighter. You mouth off to me, and I’ll punch you. So this guy - this guy - keeps making comments to me, and I’m ignoring it because I’m just trying to make sure my wife has a good time,” Quinn says. “But I’m getting pissed and my meter is just going higher and higher after three hours of this guy. He turns and looks at me - and I know by that look what’s going to happen. He grabs me by the collar and I’m screaming for him to let me go because I don’t want to have to punch him with my wife there.”
But then...Jay Cutler throws a pick in the end zone to end all hope of the Broncos winning - and Quinn escaping the game unscathed.
“I lost it. I yelled ‘you mother-effer! Do something. DO SOMETHING!’ So he grabs me and I just start hockey punching this guy like 10 times in the nose,” Quinn recalls. “He pulls me over the seats and we go down about three rows, and all I can think the whole time is ‘my wife will never let me watch football again.’”
Quinn and his friends escaped before the police could get to them, but he admits it was the longest three-hour drive home of his life.
“The next year I barely watched football, but over time my wife felt bad for me, so she gave in,” Quinn says laughing, emphasizing that his wife is truly a rock star for putting up with his obsession. “And now I’ve got the kids involved, so it’s like ‘a thing’ and she has to tolerate it. But she certainly doesn’t like football.”
Vacationing done right.
‘Hardest thing I ever did’
Quinn, who always loved sports and played football, soccer and wrestling in high school, got into acting purely by chance.
He and a friend had been driving around after school - no seatbelts, going 90 mph - when they flipped the car and were ejected. They survived but were severely banged up, preventing Quinn from doing any more sports that year.
“I was in the basement with a knee brace, doing nothing but watching ‘Baywatch,’ and it was like a spiritual experience,” Quinn says, remembering that was the first time it occurred to him you could get a job being an actor.
On a whim, he hobbled into the tryouts for his high school production of “12 Angry Men.”
“You could hear all the theatre people whispering, ‘WTF is Brandon doing here?’” he says laughing.
But the joke was on them because Quinn got the lead.
“It was the hardest work I had ever done, and it was an incredible experience,” he said. “And afterward, I was like, ‘Never doing that again.’”
Quinn loved the acting part, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to put that much time into the process of it all.
Three months later, however, he starred in “Guys and Dolls” and realized that was actually what he planned to do the rest of his life.
Lights, Camera, ACTION! #slugger
So he joined an acting class in Denver, which flew out agents from L.A. for the students to audition for. Quinn signed with one of the agents, convinced a few friends to move out to L.A. with him and started getting auditions right away.
And the rest - as they say - is history.
Many displaced Coloradans find that once they leave the state, their passion for the Broncos increases exponentially. It’s tough to say if that is the case for Quinn, given that his fandom has basically always been in the “obsessive” category.
“Sometimes even I ask myself that - ‘Why do I care so much? Why did I care so damn much when Rahim Moore dropped that pass?’” he says, with no remorse whatsoever for caring so damn much. “It’s in my DNA, and I can’t control it.”
Grew up in The John Elway Era
But if Quinn’s Broncos mania seems over-the-top (or perhaps right on target with your own fandom), you have to appreciate the era he grew up in - The John Elway Era.
As in, not just “watching football while John Elway was quarterback” but “growing up and learning about football” while Elway helmed the ship and grew up as a Bronco himself.
Sundays were either going to Mile High to watch the games (his dad’s company had season tickets) or going to church, coming home and watching the games on TV and then going outside to re-enact the game.
And more often than not, that included an Elway comeback.
Quinn was just 6 during Elway’s rookie year, so the Aurora native’s prime “playing and learning about football” years came during Elway’s early Super Bowl runs.
Quinn still vividly remembers the day in sixth-grade when his mother finally let him play football on a team and he got his helmet, pads and jersey. He fell asleep on the family Lazy Boy with helmet in hand that day.
So when the Broncos finally made it over the Super Bowl hump during the 1997-98 season, Quinn was an up-and-coming actor about to star in his first series, “Big Wolf on Campus.”
The Canadian-based series is set on a high school campus where the school’s most popular kid and quarterback of the football team, Tommy Dawkins, is bitten by a wolf on a campout and transforms into a feared and misunderstood werewolf.
Quinn admits with great pride that he patterned his jock character after Elway.
“Everybody knew my obsession with Elway. There are so many John Elway references in the show,” Quinn says. “He was just THAT guy. He’s that one player. Freakin’ John Elway.”
So it should come as no surprise that Quinn remains extremely passionate about this team and its future.
And that means he probably has one or two strong opinions about last season.
OK, more like 10 very strong opinions, including:
Last year’s draft:
“That was the worst draft in I don’t know how long. What was John DOING? Ugh.”
Player to draft this year if not a QB:
“Would [Quenton] Nelson be the smarter choice? Yes. Probably. But I look at what T.D. did for John Elway, and how infrequently we are picking in the top 5...and I just have a hard time taking a guard...But Saquon, man. I remember turning on TV last fall, and on the first play the quarterback hands off to No. 26, and he runs for a 30-yard run and I was like, ‘Who is this man?’ He’s like Adrian Peterson the way he runs with power and swiftness and vision. ...And he seems like a really great kid. Such a tremendous talent and it would be so fun.”
Current players to let go:
“Totally get rid of Shane Ray. ...And don’t even get me started on our running backs room.”
Current players to keep:
“Do NOT get rid of Shaq Barrett; he’s a stud.”
Quinn’s opinions are easy to decipher. If he’s excited about a guy, he can’t stop talking about him.
If he wants nothing to do with a guy, he just says “Nope” - possibly more than once for emphasis. So...
Vance Joseph as coach?
“Vance Joseph is clueless. He doesn’t talk like he has a plan. He has no clue what he is doing and it was so evident last season,” Quinn says, pointing out that even without Peyton Manning the past two seasons, there were still a lot of really good players to put together a winning product.
“What was displayed on that field last season ... that was 100 percent on coaching. ...Players just seemed lifeless and underprepared. ‘And that is YOUR job, Vance!’ I don’t care if players liked him. That’s not what makes a good football team.” - Brandon Quinn
Quinn is already nostalgic about the team two years ago - the one led by an aging Manning who still commanded the field like no other.
“I tried to soak up every second of Peyton as our quarterback, but you start to take it for granted. And you realize now, it was him. IT WAS HIM,” Quinn says of no longer having that leadership and football IQ. “He brought the best out of every single player and coach on that team. When people try to compare Brady and Manning, and you realize that Manning won two championships with two different franchises, you can’t compare them. People say, ‘well look at the rings.’ NOPE! Brady is no Peyton Manning, and no one can convince me otherwise. The guy is amazing.”
(Yeah, “nope” to Tom Brady for sure.)
So Quinn knows he has been spoiled as a football fan. How can you not be when two of your team’s quarterbacks have been Elway and Manning?
But that doesn’t mean he’s not pining for that kind of brilliance on his team every season.
“Football is such a head game. You have to be taught to see plays developing, to see blitzes, to figure out the other team’s plan - and what they put on the field last season was such a mess. It was SO embarrassing. Joseph is just lost out there.”
‘Worst decision ever’
Quinn’s disdain for the current Broncos coach made it easier to cheer for Broncos losses this season for the first time in his life.
“I was actually one of those guys who wanted us to lose out,” Quinn said about the 2017 disaster, adding that the game against the Chiefs - his most hated, hated rival - was the first time he ever rooted against the Broncos. “It was very weird.”
@Broncos r hard to watch. BAD on O, BAD on D. Undisciplined, penalties turnovers. Vance Joseph & John Elway youve ruined this team #Broncos— Brandon Quinn (@TheBrandonQuinn) November 5, 2017
Hiring Joseph was a bad enough decision in Quinn’s mind, but if there were a worse one, it was letting Wade Phillips walk away.
“John Elway is my childhood hero,” Quinn says, noting that’s in spite of the fact that Elway has blocked him on Twitter. “But that was THE WORST DECISION EVER! At the very least, having Vance Joseph - who has never coached a team before - it was vital to keep Wade. It makes me worry about John Elway.”
And that’s probably was disturbs Quinn the most about last season and heading into the future - he no longer trusts his childhood hero implicitly.
“He hired somebody like Vance so he could remain the Big Man on Campus and could control his coach,” Quinn says, yelling to the universe, “You are not a coach, John!”
In full disclosure, Quinn wanted Kyle Shanahan to be the Broncos head coach, and after seeing what the child prodigy did with the 49ers this season, Quinn is even more upset the Broncos went a different direction - and, worse yet, are still sticking with that choice.
“I love Shanahan - and not just because of his dad and his connection to this franchise. I love the way he approaches football, the way he talks about the game, the confidence he has in himself...I loved him for the Broncos. I wanted that hire as bad as I want Baker Mayfield.”
Which brings us to the draft - possibly Quinn’s favorite time of the year.
Mayfield or bust
And if there would be one way Elway could win back Quinn’s confidence, it would be to ignore the temptation to go after a likely expensive free agent like Kirk Cousins and instead draft the rookie out of Oklahoma.
We haven’t seen a QB (who can throw a ball better than most I might add) this electrifying in years. Defenses will have to game plan for his legs to which he’ll throw on you and vice versa. His elite athleticism will buy him time to develope as a thrower.— Brandon Quinn (@TheBrandonQuinn) January 18, 2018
“Our offense last year was the most anemic, void of credible, tangible leadership offense ever, and when I look at Baker Mayfield from a personality standpoint, from a mental standpoint, from a determination standpoint, he is infectious,” Quinn argues. “He has a determination that you Can. Not. Coach.”
Quinn was especially impressed in the Rose Bowl when Mayfield led his team back - even after throwing a terrible interception and getting sacked multiple times.
“He was not phased by the pressure. He laughs at it; he wants it,” Quinn says. “Great players do that. They take the team on their back and say, ‘follow me.’ It’s a God-given trait and Baker has it.”
“[Baker] is not phased by the pressure. He laughs at it; he wants it. Great players do that. They take the team on their back and say, ‘follow me.’ It’s a God-given trait and Baker has it.” - Brandon Quinn
Quinn is the first to acknowledge his gravitational pull to Mayfield may seem irrational, but being a Broncos fan is not about being rational. It’s about being a winner.
Which is exactly what Quinn sees from Mayfield.
“He is going to do whatever it takes to put himself in a position to win,” Quinn says. “He’s so confident and sure of himself. You know he’s going to go above and beyond to put his team in the best position to win.”
And that’s not even discussing his abilities on the field with the football, but when it comes to that, Quinn still believes Mayfield is the best QB choice in the draft. Although some of the other top prospects are enticing, Quinn likes Mayfield’s accuracy over being able to “make the big play.”
And, of course, his favorite football attribute is Mayfield’s total determination to finish the play.
“When it falls apart, you have a guy who can improvise,” Quinn says. “He runs to throw. He is always moving around to make the play. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THAT.”
As silly as Quinn’s emotional support for Mayfield might sound to serious football fans, the Colorado native and lifelong fan has two words for you:
Today in #[email protected] defined clutch by engineering #TheDrive. pic.twitter.com/nRBrJ9b0K3— NFL History (@NFLhistory) January 11, 2018
Looking for the next ‘No. 7’
Basically Quinn is just looking for the next No. 7 to be the signal caller for his favorite team, and he has no doubt Mayfield has the goods.
Quarterbacks like Elway - and Peyton Manning and Tom Brady - make the players around them play better, and ultimately that’s what Quinn thinks this Broncos team needs most.
“Trevor can spin it, but that is where the buck stops with him. And Paxton...don’t even get me started on that guy,” Quinn says, acknowledging that even Brock Osweiler’s medium-level talent and poise isn’t enough for the Broncos. “If we don’t draft Baker, I will feel like I just got divorced from my wife, and I’ll be so jealous of whoever gets him.”
Quinn wouldn’t be opposed to a free agent quarterback coming to Denver as a stopgap while a rookie like Mayfield gets grounded in the NFL. But he is concerned about a high-priced free agent like Kirk Cousins who might necessitate unloading some of the Broncos’ top talent like Aqib Talib and even Demaryius Thomas.
For sure. If you go that route which is the route I’m hoping they go, you draft your QB at 5 or 3 and get a stop gap veteran QB not named Cousins in FA. I honestly think Baker could be there in yr 2 and could make waves in yr 1. He’s a stud and smart https://t.co/C9g95vX0UZ— Brandon Quinn (@TheBrandonQuinn) February 4, 2018
That said, Quinn recognizes Cousins would make the team better - and he’s always in favor of that - but he’d prefer a different direction for the team.
“I’d break the bank for Peyton Manning. It’s freakin’ Peyton Manning. But Cousins is no Peyton Manning,” he says, adding that if the Broncos go with Cousins, he’ll “get over it” but will then pine for Saquon Barkley. “Because if we get Cousins, we need a franchise running back, just like Elway had with TD.”
“I want to build my own freakin’ house! I want a 22-year-old I can root for for the next 15 years...I WANT THE NEXT JOHN ELWAY!” - Brandon Quinn
But any of those secondary scenarios are just rationalizations in case Quinn’s dream gets shattered in April - no Baker Mayfield to the Broncos.
The actor-who-once-considered-being-an-architect likes to compare it to designing a house. Do you want to buy a house that requires fixing up to fit your needs - or do you want to build your dream house from the ground up?
You can guess what Quinn would do.
“I want to build my own freakin’ house!” he says. “I want a 22-year-old I can root for for the next 15 years...I WANT THE NEXT JOHN ELWAY!”
Can you blame the guy for being this passionate about a future Broncos quarterback?
Not when he grew up in The John Elway Era.
*Editor’s Note: To experience the full extent of Brandon Quinn’s passion for this team, listen to MHR Radio’s latest episode with hosts Adam Malnati and Ian St. Clair. The MHR Radio Podcast is now on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher. Please subscribe to the one that fits your fancy, and also rate and review what you hear on iTunes.
Quinn was a guest on Wednesday night’s broadcast - and you can bet they talked about how much the actor loves the draft, loves Baker Mayfield and how much he doesn’t love the current coach ... plus a whole bunch of other fantastic stories.