The 2012 National Football League season will mark another year in the game's longest home sellout streak.
The Denver Broncos sellout streak will be in its 43rd year this season, and that makes it unique beyond its simple and obvious length.
Denver found its place in pro football as an American Football League original in 1960, and when the most contentious battle between leagues ended with a merger in the late 1960's, it was agreed that the two leagues would merge into one—or more accurately, that the AFL teams would move into the NFL to crates just one pro football league—starting with the 1970 campaign.
So, with the Broncos' sellout streak having begun with the very first game of the 1970 season, it is accurate to note that the entire streak has come with the Broncos as members of the NFL.
Therefore, the Broncos are the only team in NFL history that can lay claim to never having had a non-sellout as a member of the NFL for an extended period of time.
The sellout streaks in New York, Washington, Green Bay and Pittsburgh are notable by length, but of course the franchises have been in the league a lot longer than has Denver and each went through some salad days with their fans. Remember, back in the day, in the 1920's era featuring the game's birth, pro football was looked at like a traveling vaudeville show.
And one other team of note at the other end of the time continuum is the Houston Texans franchise. The Texans have been sold out for every game of their history—but their entire history only spans the period from 2002 till now.
So the only team, the single one and only team that has played before home sellouts for the entirely of its multi-decade membership in the NFL, is the Denver Broncos.
Further, the fans from Denver, the surrounding region and even farther areas of the country who have packed Mile High Stadium and now Sports Authority Field at Mile High for this 43-year streak have seen almost nothing but winning.
Yes, we all know that we emerged last year from a several year malaise of mediocrity, but even including that, the Broncos have been among the NFL's consistent winners.
We already know the Broncos have had six AFC titles and Super Bowl appearances during this streak, with the unforgettable back-to-back world championships as the centerpieces of this success.
Recently Erich Schubert of the Broncos' PR department asked the Elias Sports Bureau for some stats on fewest losing seasons by NFL teams since 1984.
The Broncos have had the NFL's fewest losing seasons by any team from 1984 to the present. Coincidentally, this time frame marks the Pat Bowlen era as team owner, and the standard of success is always set from the top.
Denver has had five losing seasons, with the next fewest being by Baltimore and Houston (six each, and in Houston's case, that is six out of just 11 overall).
There is a four way tie (with seven losing seasons) among Green Bay, Miami, New England and Pittsburgh in that time frame, and every other team has more losing seasons these listed franchises.
And of the seven teams just noted with the fewest losing seasons—Denver having the fewest—Houston and Miami have not won the Super Bowl in that period, and only the Broncos, Patriots and Steelers have multiple Super Bowl wins.
When fans go to a game, they want to see their team win. And they don't want to see their team lose.
The Broncos have a nearly unmatched record of success at both ends of the spectrum in that period, and they might just have the very best fans in pro football supporting that success.
We are about to kick off a new era in 2012, but the goal is the same one that has existed ever since Pat Bowlen walked in the door as owner in 1984.
Contend at the highest level.
With the end of the team's mini-camp and official off-season program, players and coaches alike will be taking some time off before training camp kicks off in late July.
That will take place with a national glow of excitement and expectation surrounding the Broncos, but nowhere are the goals held higher than in this building, and by no one more so than the players, coaches and fans who have defined Broncos Country for five decades of passion.