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Sundays with Sacco: Eight weeks of summer

If you are like most Americans who live in cold-weather states, the Memorial Day weekend signals the beginning of summer, a glorious time of endless sunshine and cool nights, amusement parks and porch swings, iced tea and ice cream cones, sometimes from those favorite little shops that were closed for the winter.

That same calendar exists in the world of pro football, but it is read a little differently.

The first week of Broncos OTAs is in the books following Thursday's practice at UCHealth Training Center. (photos by Eric Bakke)

For the world champion Denver Broncos and the other 31 NFL teams, the arrival of summer is bittersweet, offering free time and vacations with relatives, travel and hamburgers, but with a ticking clock at the end that goes off before the arrival of August.

The Broncos right now are just about eight weeks from the start of summer training camp. For most fans, that signals the start of the new football season, the 97th in NFL history and the 57th for the Broncos, 10 in the American Football League and 47 as members of the NFL.

But the offseason has already been packed with activity.

First of all, when you win the Super Bowl, you start your offseason a month later than some teams. You have all the same preparation work to do, but you have to compress it into less time.

That has happened.

Peyton Manning retired, the scouts finished off their college player evaluations, free agency began and continues, the offseason training and conditioning program began in April, the draft was held, undrafted college players have been signed, and league approved OTAs have begun.

But the Broncos still have plenty on their plates.

The offseason work continues, and there are off-the-field career highlights to come, including the Super Bowl 50 ring ceremony, as well as scheduling a visit to the White House. Those are career moments that no player or staff member can ever forget.

But Head Coach Gary Kubiak put all these things into perspective when he spoke to the team as a unit, letting them know that these remaining items are the cherries on top of the cake, but that cake has already been baked.

That fabulous championship season of 2015 is in the history books and the daily focus is on getting better, individually and as a team, for the challenge that awaits in the new year.

So the ring ceremonies will take place, the flight to our nation's capitol will take place, congratulatory smiles and hugs will be exchanged, off time will come, friends and relatives will be visited, with more congratulatory smiles and hugs.

But Kubiak has gone to the Super Bowl seven times and won it four times, and Executive Vice President/General Manager John Elway is the only person to have taken the same franchise to the game seven times, as quarterback and general manager, winning it three times.

The Broncos hit the field for Day 2 of Organized Team Activities. (Photos by Eric Bakke)

They both know the difference between a celebration and becoming consumed by the celebration, and Broncos Country can be sure their message has been imparted to the Broncos of 2016.

As Elway has noted repeatedly when asked about building a roster, every year is new, every year is different.

The flag waves over Denver, but this is a new season, a new challenge, and a new team. But it's the same old attitude, however: Compete for the championship.

The start of camp is eight weeks away, but you can be sure the Broncos are enjoying the moment with one eye on the new prize that always awaits over the horizon.

Elway and Kubiak share a trait that I have always prized, that being an obsessive compulsive drive toward the next thing, the next goal.

Having some of these traits myself, I can vouch for the fact that obsessive compulsives never give anything back when they add a new compulsion to their psyche. They pile them up, but they never give any back.

They just keep driving for the next fulfillment, and they bring everybody else along with them. Anyone who does not go along had best just get the heck out of the way.

As defensive lineman Derek Wolfe said in a press session a few days ago, mimicking the mindsets of Elway and Kubiak, "We have a standard here, and they either buy in or they don't. They're either going to buy into that standard or they're going to get the hell out."

We are in the quiet time of the offseason, with some great moments ahead in the next two months.

But we are just eight summer weeks away from that Broncos standard once again being on national display.

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