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Fan reps Broncos in Seahawks' nest

When you watch ESPN leading up to Sunday's game, you'll be introduced to an interesting Broncos fan.

Over the past 19 years, Shane Krueger has been to 36 countries as a part of the U.S. Navy in their Afloat Training Group, and wherever he's been, he's proudly worn his Denver Broncos jersey and flown a Broncos flag.

Wherever he's lived, he's painted his garage walls Broncos blue with the team logo and put up the flag in his yard.

That's never been a point of contention much, at least until recently.

You see, Shane lives in Seattle. He's lived there for three years, but originally he's from Longmont, Colo. The Broncos fanaticism he's had for his whole life has followed him wherever he's been stationed: Colorado, Texas, Mississippi, San Diego, Italy, Iraq, Spain, Japan, the U.S.S. Nimitz, and now Seattle.

As you can imagine, Krueger can feel a bit like Broncos-colored dot in a sea of blue and electric green.

But his dot is one that's been amplified by his vibrant orange-and-blue spirit. Everywhere Krueger has lived since his time in Texas, he's done a good deal to put a Broncos stamp on his home, whether that's painting the logo in his garage, painting curb where his address number is or raising his Broncos flags. And now in Seattle he's done all those things and taken it a step further. Krueger's turned his basement into a theater room where he hosts game watch parties, so naturally that's become his Broncos hub. He used a projector to scale up a larger Broncos logo as a template for a bigger painting on his wall, and his home is decked out in Broncos-colored stripes.

Come game day, Krueger and his family rock their orange and blue gear and typically host 15-20 friends over for pizza and fun as they watch that week's game.

The only thing that might separate him from hundreds, if not thousands of other Broncos fans is that he does this while surrounded by fans of the team that beat his favorite team in the previous Super Bowl, making him something of a target.

But that doesn't diminish his spirits. It's actually pushed him to become a better fan with a wider breadth of knowledge as he did more research so he could betterback up his arguments.

It poses some challenges and even a friendly rivalry, but nothing other than mostly good-natured ribbing. "I haven't ran into anybody with bad intent or anything like that. They'll talk crap about the Broncos and whatnot, and rightfully so: They kicked our butts and put it in our face, and it was tough."

It was especially tough with him and his block hosting parties on the day of the Super Bowl. Their neighborhood held a block party that gathered somewhere between an estimated 300-400 people, and Krueger himself had about 70 people at his house to watch the game, even though only abotu a dozen of them were Broncos fans.

Obviously the Super Bowl didn't go the way Krueger had hoped, but he kept good spirits. As he said, he's there for the camaraderie and friendship, though he'd clearly have preferred a different outcome. "I'm a football fan and of course a diehard Broncos fanatic, but I'm a football fan having people over and enjoying it. It was hard, and it's been hard over these last couple months getting over it and listening to all the Seahawks fans. It'd be different if I lived in a different state."

But now it's a new season and this is a different game. The stakes aren't as high but it's still a game that should have emotions running high, whether on the field or in the stands.

Seattle's fans are very proud of their status, claiming the world record for crowd noise of 137.6 decibels and their "12th Man" name.

But Krueger says Broncos fans have their own strong levels of prominence with a long-standing waiting list for season tickets and a much stronger history of fan support. They've also been ranked the No. 2 NFL fan base by Forbes only behind Green Bay, and a recent fan mapping by Facebook has Broncos orange quite prominent in the United States.

Krueger's background is centered in the heart of that culture. As a child, his family would attend training camp to watch practice and to get autographs, and they'd hold picnics and watch parties. He grew up playing quarterback from Pop Warner to Skyline High School. Then he joined the Navy at 20 and began traveling the world, taking his orange and blue gear with him.

He's not the only person in Seattle who's taken their Broncos enthusiasm to the Emerald City. They may be outnumbered, but they have found each other. Krueger's part of a Facebook group called Denver Broncos Fans of Seattle, which has over 500 members. Groups of fans, usually somewhere between 60 and 100 people, gather at St. Andrews Bar and Grill or at Scotch and Vine to keep together in enemy territory to maintain their solidarity.

It's a strong one that's endured taunts and jokes from the opposing side, and regardless of outcome, it's been a good time for Krueger.

"It's been fun," Krueger said. "I've been around 36 countries, I've worn my jersey and flown my flag around the world and I've always supported the Broncos everywhere I've gone. It's been amazing."

It would just be a little bit more amazing if he got the chance to turn that ribbing around on his neighbors on Sunday.

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