CALHAN, Colo. –The sun dipped below the front range of the Continental Divide, and most of the residents on a small cul-de-sac in Calhan were inside their homes.
The business day was over and the neighborhood kids had returned from school. The quiet of rural Colorado smothered the block.
In the twilight, though, the Ogans got to work.
Chris and his niece, Kyra, hauled paint cans and brushes into the driveway and studied their unusual canvas. The garage door of his home wouldn't stay white* *for long. With broad strokes of the brush, the Ogans added vibrant orange touches to the house.
In the left corner, the orange became the mane of the Broncos' logo. Below that, the fill of Denver's old logo. Toward the center of the garage, the orange twisted into an '18' and '7'. Chris added splashes of blue and black to the surface as he honored one of his father's final wishes.
Chris' father, Dan, moved to Denver from Topeka, Kansas, as a child and quickly adopted the Broncos. The former state patrolman met his wife, Patty, when he worked in Glenwood Springs, and he quickly turned her into a Broncos fan, as well.
In the late '90s, after the Broncos' first two Super Bowl wins, the Ogans painted the garage door of their old home with a pair of Lombardi trophies. The painting seemed like a natural celebration of former quarterback John Elway's accomplishments.
So as Dan's health declined in early 2016, Chris promised his father he would paint the new garage door with the Broncos' spoils if Denver won Super Bowl 50.
Chris and Kyra spent two-and-a-half weeks painting the garage door, and their neighbors made a habit of idling their cars in front of the first house on the cul-de-sac.
"While we were doing it, a lot of people would stop and ask what we're doing," Patty said. "I don't know if they thought we were crazy."
One strip sack at a time, Von Miller and the Broncos fulfilled their end of the bargain. Chris and Kyra were simply doing their part.
So along with the logos, Chris and Kyra painted out a large '50' to go along with the Lombardi Trophy.
That coat of gold finished the job.
Only a few minutes pass before Patty rises from her chair and strides over to the corner of the room.
Six members of the Ogan family are sitting in the family room of their Calhan home. It's early June – only a few weeks have gone by since Dan died on March 23.
He lived long enough to witness the Broncos' 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers and to see his son finish the garage door. Before he passed, Dan always spoke about sending a photo of the garage along to the Broncos. He never quite did, so Patty made sure to do so after his death. At most, she thought she might receive a letter in response.
"I never expected this," says Patty, of the Broncos' decision to write about her husband's devotion. "I think he would be tickled pink if he was here."
Patty's five relatives look on and groan knowingly as she reaches down to grab an aged binder from a shelf.
Here we go, Chris says.
The album creaks open to reveal photo after photo of Elway in his playing days. Patty and Dan took hundreds of pictures during three or four trips to Broncos training camp in Greeley, Colorado, and they secured at least one Elway autograph. Those trips proved to be the closest and most consistent contact the Ogans would have with the Broncos. Dan made it to a night game against Seattle, and Patty accompanied her sons to another contest, but the training camp visits were the true opportunities to see Dan's favorite players up close.
For Dan, those moments might have been the pinnacle of his Broncos fandom. But then they won Super Bowl XXXII. Terrell Davis ran for three touchdowns, Elway converted perhaps the most-famous third down in Broncos history and Dan had his moment.
"When we won the first Super Bowl," Chris says, "it was heaven-sent for him. He was hugging, jumping up and down and screaming."
That initial viewing wouldn't be the last time Dan watched Super Bowl XXXII in its entirety. To hear his family tell it, there were hardly times when either Super Bowl XXXII or XXXIII weren't on the television. In the month that followed Super Bowl 50, Dan watched the full broadcast of the Broncos' third world championship win more than 20 times. The Ogans say the replays of the first two Super Bowls far surpassed that number in the 17 years between world championship victories.
Of course, the current iterations of the Broncos always held Dan's attention, as well. He meticulously kept a log of all the shows he recorded, but the hundreds of pages could be boiled down to a single descriptor: "NFL Football."
As Dan got older and needed dialysis, he would lay in his bedroom as he recorded prime-time Broncos games. During treatment the next day, he would avoid all mentions of the final score. That often proved difficult, given the leather Broncos jacket he would wear to treatment. But the illness wouldn't keep Dan and his family from watching – whether live or on tape delay -- Denver play its way toward a Super Bowl 50 victory.
"Oh yes, you didn't miss a Broncos game," Patty said.
For a family that's watched Broncos games for decades and celebrates birthdays and holidays with team memorabilia, the Broncos' 2016 opener will feel abnormally bittersweet for the Ogans.
Patty speaks for an hour on this June day about all facets of her husband's life: his jobs, illnesses and devotion to Broncos. But when she's asked about that opening game, she pauses for the first time. Her voice drips with emotion as she looks up.
"It's going to be different without him," she says.
The Sept. 8 matchup against Carolina will mark the first time the Ogans watch the Broncos without Dan's yells echoing through the family room. So while Patty says they'll continue to watch, kickoff could bring a tear or two. And should the Broncos roll through the 2016 season to a Super Bowl LI title, the Ogans will haul the paint cans back out to driveway. They'll have another MVP's number and another Lombardi Trophy to add to the mix.
So Chris will grab a brush and begin again.
Dan would've wanted it that way.