School Reform, Political Feuds, Elections and Pot Dominate the Radar In 2022

Trevor Phipps, Rick Langenberg and Bob Volpe

Oddly enough, 2022 definitely obliterated  the earlier predictions of key insiders and journalists including scribes from TMJ, (calling for a calm time), and became quite an eventful  year in the Teller County/lower Ute Pass area, at least on the political front. Our fine region grappled with much school reform angst, regular short-term rental fights, a spree of pivotal elections and even recall bids, and finally the legalization of retail marijuana and bizarre crimes. Yes, there wasn’t much time for a break. In fact, the former COVID pandemic almost became an old problem (well not really, but it seemed that way).

As we conclude our final toasts in bidding good-bye to 2022, here are some prime stories and news trends that dominated the pages and web-social media postings of TMJ during the last year.

Teller County

Strange Crimes Bombard Region

Although last year seemed relatively uneventful when it came to serious criminal activity in the Ute Pass region, there were still some big stories that hit the news. Unlike years in the past, there was not a big story like a Woodland Park resident getting arrested for his role in the insurrection at the capitol building or a Florissant resident getting sentenced to life behind bars for brutally murdering his fiancé.

 However, a number of crimes related to sexual assaults on minors took center stage. And these sex-related crimes seemed to continue up until the end of 2022. (See related story)

Earlier this year, the Woodland Park Police Department had a change of command when Chris Deisler was hired as the new police chief. The move came after investigations of misconduct led to the resignation of the previous chief and one of his commanders, and the termination of a commander and a patrol sergeant.

When the chief first took the reins he promised more transparency. He started having monthly forums with the community and posting more about arrests on social media.

After he started last spring, Deisler started posting incidents on social media like the arrest of a manager at a fast food restaurant for sexually assaulting minors. A month or two later the police department announced the first in a series of arrests of Lake George resident Samuel Harris for several charges having to do with sexual assault on minors.

The Woodland Park Police Department also arrested Woodland Park resident Kevin McAvoy Jr. for sexual assault on a minor by a person in position of trust. The majority of the other posts by the Woodland Park Police Department were related to thefts.

During the year, there were a number of arrests and posts related to theft of property including auto theft and people stealing credit cards and making purchases with them.

The dumbest criminal award probably goes to Alfredo Morales who was arrested stealing a large amount of meat products from the butcher shelf of a local grocery store over several incidents. The police eventually arrested Morales after they monitored the store with undercover officers.

The second place dumbest criminal award most likely should go to Brady Bathrick who was arrested last May on a slew of felony charges after leading police on a short slow-moving police chase. The officers stopped Bathrick on the west side of town after they used a tire deflation device, and after he stopped his vehicle he ran it into two police cars before getting taken into custody.

The Teller County Sheriff’s Office started 2022 on the quiet side.  But once the weather started heating up in the spring, the office was abuzz with wildfires and strange crimes.

Last April, the sheriff’s office announced that they had to arrest one of their own deputies. Former deputy Mark Bissett was off duty when he was arrested for felony menacing for allegedly threatening a neighbor with a firearm.

Also, last spring, the county’s former emergency management director, Don Angell ,was arrested on assault charges. He was arrested for allegedly assaulting former Florissant Fire Chief Mike Bailey.  This started a slew of controversy surrounding the fire department.

Also in April, the county dealt with three wildfires that all ignited in a short time period. There were two near Cripple Creek that started in a single day and one that started just north of Woodland Park.

The fires were just a small hint of what would come as in May authorities battled the High Park Fire that grew to more than 1,000 acres. The fire lasted around a week before crews were able to put it out. No structures were lost during the fire.

In June, another arrest was made that could qualify for the year’s dumbest criminal as well. Jeremiah Taylor was arrested after he stole a Park County Sheriff’s vehicle and then took it to a domestic violence call in Florissant. Deputies put Taylor in custody after he wrecked the stolen patrol car after a short chase.

Then in August, the sheriff’s department reported the biggest drug bust in recent history. After the deputies searched three properties that were riddled with trash and junk, they arrested a number of people on a slew of charges. During the busts, several illegal items were found including stolen vehicles, large amounts of illegal marijuana and fentanyl.

Elections of 2022/Legalizing Marijuana

The November election of 2022 was pivotal, resulting in the legalization of retail marijuana within the city limits of Cripple Creek. This marks the first time a pro-marijuana proposition has been approved by a municipality in Teller County.

Voters in Cripple Creek approved both a ballot question, giving the go-ahead for recreational and  medicinal marijuana sales, and the associated tax revenue for this forthcoming industry. In fact, the question dealing with legalizing retail sales of cannabis passed by an astounding 60 to 40 percent margin.

The actual opening of a local weed shop still is  months away, as the city of Cripple Creek recently declared a moratorium on future cannabis licenses to establish the guidelines and rules.

The pro-marijuana campaign gained much attention, with Teller County elected leaders, including all three commissioners and Sheriff Jason Mikesell, expressing stern oppositions against the citizens’ initiative, making the case that the area is just not prepared to handle the impacts.  The pro-marijuana effort was  headed by a group called Cripple Creek Wins, supported by the Cripple Creek Casino Association. Leaders of the association got interested in opening the door for marijuana during a work session in late 2021, when city officials announced plans to increase betting device fees. Gaming  leaders cited retail marijuana as a possible source for additional revenue, without relying on the casino industry so  much.

The idea of legal pot has been on the forefront in Cripple Creek and other local communities for years.

Proponents argued that it could provide needed revenue to the area and could bring a new demographic of visitors.

In other election changes, Teller voters continued to support their status quo leaders, with Bob Campbell winning another term as county commissioner. The other Republican incumbents for elected seats in Teller didn’t face any opposition.  Campbell, though, was challenged by Democratic nominee Dennis Luttrell, who served as commissioner in the 1980s.

Voters also grappled with a slew of state issues, with Coloradoans showing their progressive side regarding alternative drugs.  An issue that opens the door for legal access to psychedelic drugs, such as mushrooms and mescaline, passed. This new state proposition has turned a few heads, and brought back memories of the hippie heydays of the 1960 and the California Drug Fests. This proposition was a citizen-initiated measure.

Defending the Rights of Rural Residents

This became a familiar theme of the Teller County commissioners, who took a much more prolific role than past boards in addressing state issues and even taking a stand regarding local elections.

The commissioners were quite vocal in opposing state laws, such as a proposal to basically ban the recreational and sport hunting of mountain lions, and efforts to unionize workers and to impose super-green renewable energy polices against fossil fuels and even the use of propane heating. They made it clear that the rural lifestyle is under attack by many lawmakers, who represent municipalities from the Front Range. The Teller commissioners are part of a group that is committed to maintaining the rural heritage of many counties.

This led to some definite clashes with key lawmakers.

The commissioner also got a chance to speak with Governor Jared Polis directly, during a rare visit the governor made to Teller County in the early part of the year. This marked the first time a Colorado governor conducted an extended visit to Teller County since the early 1990s.

On the county level, Teller lost their head administrator for years, as Sheryl Decker, retired. Decker manned the administrative ropes of Teller for years. She was replaced by Ross Herzog, who formerly served as the head administrator for Telluride.

In other county issues, the Teller commissioners also adopted revised rules against trash accumulation, junk cars and the storage of old building material in unincorporated areas, making it easier for the filing of complaints. This is expected to produce some definite changes and increased code enforcement. The effort was heavily backed by the sheriff’s office who believe many fugitives and drug dealers often try to hide in trashy sites and vehicles that violate current standards.

As for the pandemic crisis, which grabbed headlines in  2021, this actually became a non-issue in Teller. At times, some spikes occurred, but the idea of face masks and COVID restrictions took a back seat

2022 Year in Review

Woodland Park

City Elections

To start 2022, the city of Woodland Park quickly entered a period that many deemed as the most important city election in recent history. The seats were up for most of the positions on council with only council members Rusty Neal and Robert Zuluaga guaranteed seats after the April election.

As it got closer to the election last spring, arguments on both sides got heated and mudslinging was rampant. Right after the candidates started campaigning, the seven candidates for council and two mayoral candidates started forming alliances.

Mayor Hilary LaBarre ran for mayor and went to several meet and greets with council candidates Kellie Case, Frank Connors, Catherine Nakai, and David Ott. Councilmember Zuluaga ran for mayor and grouped up with council candidates DeAnn Bettermann, Matt Hayes, and Don Dezellem.

Zuluaga and his group ran on the ticket as being the “conservative” choice for council. But, many residents spoke against the group claiming that some of the candidates had close ties to the Charis Bible College.

In the end, the status quo prevailed as incumbent council members Case and Nakai held onto their seats on the dais and Mayor LaBarre won the top seat by a landslide. Connors and Ott picked up the two remaining seats making them the rookie members on the council.

Once LaBarre was sworn in, she promised residents that she would run meetings in a quick an orderly fashion. And, for the first part of the year, what were once tension-filled marathon meetings turned into short and the mostly business-as-usual events that received little public attention.

Wommack Ministries Tax Reprieve and the Push for Housing

Another local issue  that grabbed main stage attention dealt with the bid by Andrew Wommack Ministries and Charis Bible College to alter original plans for a for-profit housing development, and consequently, to do the project internally. Consequently, this would amount to a tax-free designation, since AWM is a non-profit religious organization.

The issue brought to council struck strong opinions on both sides from residents. Earlier this year, Andrew Wommack Ministries (AWM) went to the planning commission with plans to build student housing on their property.

But as a part of their bid to the planning commission, AWM wanted to change parts of the contract that had been agreed to around a decade ago. AWM wanted to increase the height of the project and take out the stipulation where they were going to build their housing with a third party company making it susceptible to property taxes.

The move by AWM sparked outrage with many residents as they saw it as the ministry backing out on their original deal. Many didn’t like the fact that the college would now be building dormitories under their nonprofit status and thus would be tax free.

When the issue went to the city council, meetings were once again filled with people from the audience filling up public comment to talk on both sides. In the end, the council reluctantly agreed to go along with AWM’s variances because they could not afford to go to court if a lawsuit was filed.

After the issue was settled, AWM donated $250,000 to the city to help them gain more water taps to help with future growth. AWM then broke ground on their housing project shortly after.

STR Battleground Heats Up

Once 2022 started nearing to an end, short-term rentals (STRs) seemed to be the next issue that got people in the city fired up. During the year, the city conducted a study on STRs within the city and then the planning commission was tasked with coming up with an STR licensing process and regulations.

The city also put a temporary moratorium on issuing business licenses for STRs until the issue could be decided on by council. Once the planning commission was finished they submitted their recommendations to council, who then went back and forth with changes councilmembers wanted to make to it.

The council ended up voting to allow STRs in most residential neighborhoods for the time being so that the city could conduct an economic impact study over the next 12 to 18 months. But shortly after the council passed the ordinance, a group of citizens said, “Not so fast,” and filed a referendum petition to attempt to repeal the ordinance.

Shortly after, yet another referendum petition was filed that stopped the moratorium on STR business licenses. And at the end of 2022, the referendums had not yet gone through leaving the end of the STR issue still up in the air.

This will undoubtedly become a big issue in 2023.

 DDA Saga Continues

2022 was a landmark year for the Woodland Park Downtown Development Authority, both politically and from a development planning stage.

July saw the ousting of long time DDA Chairperson, Merry Jo Larsen. Then, long-time DDA Attorney, Paul Benedetti, was canned in December, 2021. This marked the beginning of the changing of the guard for the DDA.

Larsen failed to be reappointed to the board at the July 16 city council meeting. Larsen served on the DDA for over 20-years.

The rejection of Larsen came as a surprise to some and no surprise at all to others. Larsen has weathered a number of storms with city council during her term on the DDA board, but this rejection comes after several new members have been appointed to the DDA board over the last several months who have been vigorously opposed to Larsen on many issues.

The trend of a “time for new blood at the DDA” continued. In August of 2021, the council appointed Park State Bank & Trust President Tony Perry and local businessman and BierWerks owner Arden Weatherford to the board.  Both Perry and Weatherford were two historic foes of Larsen and the policies of the previous DDA administration.

In February, the  DDA voted to approve Marcus McAskin’s law firm to represent the organization. McAskin is a member of the Michow and McAskin law firm in Greenwood Village, Colorado. McAskin has represented Colorado public entities since 2002, and is a founding member of the law firm of Michow Cox & McAskin LLP. This represented a significant change in the DDA legal lineup.

And once again, and similar to the last few years, Woodland Station took center stage on the DDA’s agenda. At one time, this was considered the prime future commercial anchor of DDA development. But the vision of this property, which was formerly owned and operated by the Woodland Park Saddle Club, never materialized.  In January, developer Mike Williams, continued to try and put together a group of investors to develop Woodland Station, but kept coming up short.

A second consortium of investors came forth with yet another grand pursuit, but that too fell apart before it gained any momentum. The estimated cost of that total project was $32-75 million, and included residential and commercial properties.

Then in July the Tava House group brought a proposal to the DDA, for a multi-use development with plans for a restaurant, culinary school, event center, retail, housing and more.  More importantly, they offered to buy part of the Woodland Station property, with the deal expected to close in early 2023.  The Tava House investors had a prior proposal for the property but opted to take that project to another location. This time they were focused and intent on moving forward.

The DDA board was still entertaining thoughts of Williams’ project and a showdown between the two developers ensued. In August, the DDA board voted 6-1 to award the Tava House group the chance to make history and actually put something together on the Woodland Station property.

DDA officials have expressed optimism that this project may work.  The next year could be a pivotal one for the planning of this development.

Woodland Park School RE-2 School District

Best Entertainment In Town

Residents didn’t have to worry about putting on a favorite television or movie for entertainment on Wednesday evenings, as the Woodland Park RE-2 School Board meetings rivaled anything Hollywood or Cable News could produce.  Participants just had to hang out in the back of the district meeting room to avoid stray punches.

At the end of 2021, it was decided that four new Woodland Park RE-2 School District members would be in charge for at least the next two years. The four candidates who won, Gary Brovetto, David Illingworth II, Suzanne Patterson, and David Rusterholtz campaigned as being the “conservative” choice and they started 2022 trying to quickly implement changes they promised.

During their campaign, the four new board members promised to do things like get rid of the Summit Learning Platform, increase transparency with what was being taught, and add the newly formed Merit Academy as a charter school to the district. Some of these goals sparked strong opposition from residents in the community and district staff.

Before the election in 2021, the school board meetings drew little public attention and they were rarely given air time by news sources. But then starting in 2022, this scenario changes and the meetings were filled with heated debates that quickly became the talk of the town.

When the board first started talking about chartering the Merit Academy, community members quickly fought back against how they were going to proceed.  Some residents filed a lawsuit against the board claiming that they had violated Open Meetings Laws.

This was just round one of a spree of political and legal skirmishes.

 Recall Bids and Student Protests Rock District

The debates got very heated towards the end of the ’21-’22 school year and eventually Board Director Gary Brovetto resigned from his position. He was then replaced when the board appointed Director Cassie Kimbrell.

The lawsuit then led to one of the biggest recall efforts in the area in recent history. A group of residents banded together to collect signatures to recall Board President David Rusterholtz, Board Vice President David Illingworth II, and Board Director Suzanne Patterson.

The residents worked hard to remove the three board members as they could be seen all around the region with petitions urging residents to sign. But despite their impressive efforts, the county clerk decided in the end that the group did not collect enough signatures to send the issue to a recall election.

 During the recall last spring, the district’s former superintendent, Dr. Mathew Neal, made the decision to resign from his position and move into a consultant role to help the transition. The board then paid Neal a six figure pay out to release him from his contract.

When the ’22-’23 school year started, the board meetings went back to being calm and uneventful. But that scenario only lasted temporarily until the board made another decision that sent sparks flying.

After Neal resigned, the board made Tina Cassens and Del Garrick co-interim superintendents to start the ’22-’23 school year. The board said earlier that they would start the process and find a new interim superintendent by the end of 2022.

In November, the board opened up applications for the interim superintendent position for two weeks. The board received nearly a dozen applications and they decided to pick only one finalist (Ken Witt) in December that would be subjected to a public interview. As soon as the board announced that they only had one finalist in mind, members of the community fought back. Their  main complaint dealt with Witt’s background and his current involvement with a group that assisted the Merit Academy’s original move to become a charter school. The Merit Academy currently shares facilities at the RE-2 District, which has become a sore point for many parents and students.

The students hosted a number of protests and teachers lined up at their administrators’ office asking for letters of recommendation to seek employment elsewhere.

The board interviewed Witt last week (see related story) and then decided to offer him the interim superintendent position last Wednesday despite the protests and opposition. Witt will now officially start off 2023 as the new district chief for the next six months when the board will start the process over again.

Cripple Creek

New Town Administrator Takes Charge

Besides the approval of retail marijuana, 2022 in Cripple Creek was capped with the selection of a permanent town administrator, a process city leaders struggled for several years.

After the naming of several finalists, who all appeared in person during a meet and greet gathering at the Heritage Center and final interviews, Frank Salvato, who served a variety of government posts in Texas, got the nod. He replaced Ray White, who served as interim city administrator on several occasions.

As the new city boss, Salvato has taken a lead role in trying to secure infrastructure-related government grants and to pursue opportunities to facilitate housing projects.

In fact, the push for affordable housing has become the town’s signature issue.  The city received more permit requests for housing projects than it received in decades. This is attributed to a new incentives program, allowing the waiving of fees for developers of housing projects for a limited time period. But the demand for housing has far exceeded projected availability.

Chamonix Resort Proceeding

Cripple  Creek’s bid to become more of a future destination resort area hit pay dirt in the last year, with the progress made for the new Chamonix resort, an expansion bid by Bronco Billy’s. In mid-September,  a topping-off ceremony was held for the $250 million, 300-room hotel, with four-star amenities, and an indoor parking garage. This is part of a good-luck gesture for massive developments, with historic ties dating back to the Roman empire. The project has become the talk of the town in the last year, attracting much attention by visitors to the community.

The proponents of the project, along with city leaders, see this as the opening major act in the town’s push to become more of a destination resort area. The Chamonix, though, isn’t without its critics, as some residents have complained about the size of the development, with a nine-story project, which far exceeds those of any other buildings in the historic district. Developers were able to obtain these height variances  by securing a project of special merit designation.

The Chamonix is slated to open in late 2023. Full House Resorts, the owners of Bronco Billy’s, were granted a completion extension, until the end of 2023, regarding a variety of  variance deadlines. The main delays deal with the completion of one of the signature towers.  However, Full House Resort representatives believe they can open sections of the new hotel by next fall.

Small Businesses Fight the City Council

One of Cripple Creek’s more notable internal political fights pitted a number of small non-gaming businesses against city hall.

At issue was a bid by the Heritage Center to start a small retail area, resulting in a bid to recall two council members, Mark Green and Charles Solomone. This recall had its genesis during a highly contested meeting, with the majority members of the council approving the Heritage Center’s request for a gift shop, despite  much opposition from local business operators.

A council recall vote on this issue is scheduled for late January. The issue also centers around what some complain is the city’s effort to step away from sponsoring special events, such as the Salute to American Veterans Rally and Donkey Derby Days. They say the city has changed its priorities and is trying to clash with the interests of small businesses and the city’s image as a visitor-friendly area.

Green Mountain Falls

No More Paid Parking

The town’s experiment with a paid-parking system, which generated limited revenue, came to abrupt end in 2022.

This effort was orchestrated by the former administration as an effort to have more managed parking, following an infusion of more hikers and visitors from out-of-town, in the wake of the COVID epidemic. It was also designed to generate a little more revenue for the town. But the paid-parking system ignited a huge outcry from local business operators and much confusion among residents.

This decision to  kill paid-parking was made by a new board of trustees, led by Mayor Todd Dixon. Dixon replaced Jane Newberry, who held the mayoral and trustee reins for years. The new board tried to establish better relations with the business community and core volunteers than what existed previously

Skyspace Lands in GMF

The Green Mountain Falls Skyspace project became a reality in mid-June. The project, culminates several years of annexation and trail development by the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation and Chris Keesee, the president of the Kirkpatrick Family businesses.  It highlights the work of renowned space and light artist James Turrell, and is one of 80 Skyspace exhibits across the world.

It represents a rare mountain-like observatory-planetarium structure, offering an open glimpse to the stars and skyline, with special shows held on a regular basis. The skyspace is expected to attract more year-round visitors. The skyspace is managed by the Green Box Arts group.

Local and State Sports

A Winning Time for WP Teams

The 2022 year started off with good news for several high school sports athletes and teams. The year started off with winter sports and the wrestling and boys’ basketball teams deemed to be the most successful.

When it came to wrestling, there were several grapplers that qualified for the state championship. Star wrestler Brady Hankin made it to the final round but lost and took second place. Hankin was not quite able to win the state title all four years of his high school career.

The boys’ basketball team also had a winning season for the first time in several years under the control of former coach Brian Gustafson. The team made it to the postseason but then lost before they could compete at the state championships.

During the spring season, the girls’ soccer team came out of nowhere and became a successful team for the first time in several years. The Lady Panthers earned the right to play in the state championship playoffs for the first time since 2013. However, the team was eliminated after losing their first postseason match.

During the fall sports season, more teams came out and proved to be forces to reckon with. The Panther football team completed their first winning season that they have had in over a decade.

The Panthers finished good enough to make the playoffs despite some key losses at the end of their season. And then, the Panthers ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs.

The golf team had one player that went to the state championship and did decent during the tourney. Both the girls’ and boys’ cross country teams earned a chance to compete in the state championships and they both had stellar performances while there.

The girls’ volleyball team had another successful season as they made the regional championship tournament for the third year in a row. And then the girls swept the tournament and were given the chance to compete at the state championships. But the, the Lady Panthers were eliminated from the state tournament after losing in the first round.

The cheerleading team though proved to be the most successful sports team in 2022. They took home the state championship marking the first time a Woodland Park High School sports team has taken the state title in school history.

Rocky Mountain Vibes Improve with New Management

When the Vibes started their 2022 season, they looked a lot like they did the year before. They struggled hard to win any games.

But after suffering from a losing record for the first half of the season, the team’s management decided to make a big change to help the Vibes be more successful. The Vibes renegotiated their contract so that they could hire players outside of the Mexican Baseball League system.

The team ended up firing their entire coaching staff and hiring the coach from the UCCS baseball team. After the new coach took the reins, he started hiring new players that wanted to win.

After the team got revamped by management, they started to come out on top during more and more of their matches. In fact, the Vibes had a winning record for the second half of the season, but since the playoffs take both halves of the season into account, the team did not see postseason play.

Colorado Avalanche Snag Third Stanley Cup.

 Hockey has become the gold sport for Colorado and Teller County fans.  Go to a local bar/restaurant, and most onlookers opt for catching an Avs game, rather than witnessing an NFL duel, especially with the Broncos lingering in the cellar.

In 2021, the Avs had a great regular season and they did well enough to go to the playoffs. But, the team missed their chance at the Stanley Cup after losing in the postseason.

In 2022, the Avs once again were successful and they looked super-hot even going into the playoffs. Once the playoffs started many Av fans knew that this could be their season.

And once it was all over with it was official that the team would be the NHL champions and take home the Stanley Cup trophy for the first time in over 20 years. During the playoffs, local bars were filled with old and new Avalanche fans that were tuned in to the games to nervously await the outcomes.

Once it was official that the Avs were the world hockey champions, the entire state went into an Avalanche frenzy. And in fact, the obsession Coloradans had with the team continued when the team started play earlier this year for its ’22-’23 season.

Once the season started, it seemed as if more people than ever were into watching hockey games. And more bars all around the state started showing the games on their television screens.

The Avs started out their season pretty good, but many have been disappointed that they don’t look as threatening as they did last season. And then more recently, the team’s starting roster got riddled with injuries forcing the Avalanche to lose some key matches that they otherwise might have won.

 Denver Bronco Woes Stun Fans; Turn Hopeful Season Into a Bust

Probably, the biggest disappointment for Colorado fans and football-goers at local sports bars and eateries, centered on the dismal fate of the Denver Broncos, one of the first teams to be eliminated from the playoffs.

Before the season began, the Broncos made what many (almost everybody) thought was the trade of the century. They sent Quarterback Drew Lock, Defensive Lineman Shelby Harri, and Tight End Noah Fant and a slew of draft picks to the Seattle Seahawks for Quarterback Russell Wilson. That hasn’t turned into the “win now” prospect that it was supposed to.

Besides the Wilson trade, the Broncos brought in Nathaniel Hackett from the Green Bay Packers as head coach, replacing Vic Fangio. He’d never been a head coach before and that also didn’t turn into the “win now” prospect we hoped for.

In August, the sale of the team went to the Walton-Penner Group of Walmart fame. This group brings tons of money but little to no NFL football experience. The stadium will get a $100 million upgrade in 2023 including a new video board, renovated suites, new concession stands and a larger team store that was approved in August.

Then training camp/preseason started and Tim Patrick was the first major player to succumb to injury. After that the hits kept coming as starters went down with a plethora of season ending injuries like so many dominoes. By the end of the season, the Broncos had the most players on injured reserve in the entire NFL. Wilson has been banged up most of the year. He’s nursing a partially torn muscle in his right shoulder, a grade three hamstring tear, and he suffered a concussion against the Chiefs in Week 13.

And yet with all the adversity on offense, the Broncos endeavored to persevere. The defense bounced back and forth from being the number one in the NFL to the number three and back again, but never fell below three.

The first game, at home against the Chiefs, showed marked improvement on the part of the Broncos offense. They almost came back to win that game, but fell short 28-34. The following week they beat the Arizona Cardinals 24-15, another step forward in getting the offense headed in the right direction.

So ,the year hasn’t been kind to the Broncos in many ways. For all intents and purposes, this season is over for the Broncs. With a little luck and some late season victories, they’ll be 6-11. Pitiful, but ending on a positive note is important for moral.

Better luck next year, but this same them has been echoed in the past.