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Sundays with Sacco: The Long Season

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There was an outstanding sports book written in the early 1960's called "The Long Season."

It was written by a Cincinnati Reds pitcher named Jim Brosnan and chronicled a full season from the eyes of a major league pitcher.

Brosnan's book was a fine one, then and now, and is recommended reading -- if there is still anyone out there who reads anything written five decades ago.

His book comes to mind this week because the Denver Broncos are enjoying their annual bye week, getting some rest and relaxation, nursing the various aches and pains that every player has.

But while the Broncos give some rest to their physical bruises, Broncos Country is in the throes of emotional concern about the team and the state of the offense.

It is the talk of the town, the state and to some degree the football world.

But Brosnan's book reminds us on every page that the National Football League season is a long one too.

It is that way in every league, the NFL being no exception.

The Broncos have played six games, have been favored in six games and have won all six.

Not anywhere near enough credit is given to this feat.

Way back when, Broncos Head Coach Red Miller told me on a plane ride home in the middle of the night, after a win with the Bronco players all exhausted and pretty much fast asleep, "It is very hard to win any game in the NFL.  People have no idea."

A lot of people have no idea, but every NFL head coach knows exactly what Miller was talking about them, and what Gary Kubiak knows to be true right now.

Winning every game is hard.

The Broncos are 6-0 for the seventh time, just seven times in 56 years.

And by the way, they have opened with four of the first six on the road, so the perfect record includes a 4-0 mark away from the Mile High City.

That makes the Broncos just the 16th team in NFL history--in NFL history--to begin a season 6-0 with four of the wins coming on the road. And in Denver's case, the team has accomplished this with a new head coach, making it all the more rare.

So the offense is still working on stuff.  We know it, they know it, the whole world can see it.

But never downplay the element of resolve on a team.

The defense is at the top of the NFL stats charts and the special teams are doing excellent work.

But think of the times in the six games when the offense has come up with the big drive in the big moment, late in a game.

Think of the big plays they have made when the team needed one the most.

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And the quarterback is Peyton Manning.

Anyone who is giving up on Peyton Manning needs to revisit the backs of his football cards and a couple of psychology books as well.

This guy will find a way to win in the most grim situations imaginable.

He is without a doubt one of the greatest quarterbacks of all times, but when you say that, some people just think of the stats as if the stats exist in a vacuum.

They do not. 

The stats are just part of the fabric that creates results in a game, and Manning is on the cusp of being the winningest quarterback in football history.

He and Gary Kubiak have stated repeatedly that they will keep working on this, so let them work on it.

I have known Gary for 33 years, and one of his greatest traits is absolute dogged determination.

He will never stop. Does that sound familiar as it relates to Manning? 

It does to me.

Manning has led more teams to 6-0 starts than any other quarterback in NFL history, but this is just the start.

The season is long and has to play itself out.  November and December are coming, and some teams will get buried in deep snow and others will plow through to the playoffs.

Any marathon takes a lot of grit and determination, and this Broncos team has shown plenty of that already.

Enjoy the bye and take the rest of the season one game at a time, like the coaches and players, in what remains a long journey to the finish line.

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