ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --One of my favorite characters in modern fiction is a hard-boiled detective frequently featured in Michael Connelly novels.
The detective's name is Harry Bosch, and one of the things Harry occasionally says is, "Everybody matters, or nobody matters."
A tough, hard credo, but one to live by. Everybody matters.
Similarly, everything matters, too.
The Denver Broncos received their AFC championship rings this week. The ring is a beautiful piece of jewelry representing the championship that the Broncos won in 2013.
As is always the case, some people are quick to point out once again that it is not the ultimate piece of jewelry for which the Broncos were playing.
I have been in pro sports for 40 years, and I know two things: it is a championship ring, and some outside observers just don't quite get it.
I know what the goal of players and coaches is, and how passionately we all want to win the ultimate crown once again.
But I also know there are lots of steps along the way, and each one of them is significant and very worthy of recognition.
The Broncos became one of just four teams in NFL history to win their conference title seven times or more and advance to the Super Bowl, a staggering accomplishment.
In fact, I often think of the parallel between Denver and New England, two teams that were decidedly among the "have nots" in their early years and who now annually compete for pro football's biggest prize.
In my rookie year with the Broncos I was one day wearing my Denver Bears Triple-A baseball championship ring. Someone asked me what it was, then laughed, pointing out that it did not represent Super Bowl competition.
An observer to this was one of the great pass catchers in Broncos history—a superb all around wide receiver named Jack Dolbin, still a good friend. Jack chuckled at the fellow quietly, and said, "That's OK, Jim, don't worry about him. I am as proud of my Pottstown Firebirds ring as I am of the one I got from the Broncos for 1977."
A great quote of Jack, a true, on the field competitor. Almost no one has ever heard of the Pottstown Firebirds. They were a minor league football team back in the 1960s and 1970s when the Continental Football League was a small-time pro league. Their quarterback was Jim "King" Corcoran, kind of a minor league Joe Namath, and they won a league title.
They were understandably proud of their accomplishment, and my point is just that absolutely there are different levels of play and different levels of titles, but never look down at a single one.
From the ultimate prize of the Super Bowl to the kids who go have a pizza to celebrate a little league win—and even to the tee-ball level where scores are not kept, but the players all are praised for participating and hustling, learning the values of sport, it all matters.
Harry Bosch is right on. Everything matters.
Deepest congratulations to every member of the Denver Broncos for a great accomplishment in 2013.
Now, collectively, the page is turned to a new season, one day at a time.
But like the pain of an ultimate loss, the accomplishment of 2013 will never go away.