- Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos, quarterbacked by former Colt and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, lost Super Bowl 48 (OK, OK, "XLVIII") to the Seattle Seahawks by a final score of 43-8. That's not a typo; in case you went to bed early, indulged in too many suds or what have you, the Broncos managed to lose the Big One by the third largest margin in the modern era. Denver, in fact, despite winning two Super Bowls, has lost a record five championships, and the franchise holds the record for the most lopsided loss ever, a 55-10 drubbing by the San Francisco 49ers to cap their 1989 campaign.
The Broncos opened the game with the first in a series of miscues: Manning, appearing to have forgotten his own count, watched a snap from center sail over his right shoulder as the QB looked left. The ball was recovered by the Broncos in the end zone and downed there, giving the Seahawks the fastest score in Super Bowl history: a safety in the first 12 seconds.RELATED CONTENT: The hemp debate
For more on the meltdown that was Denver in this year's Super Bowl, we spoke with Darren McKee, co-host of "The Drive with Big Al and D-Mac" on 104.3 The Fan, a sports radio station in Denver. McKee has been covering the Broncos since the pre-Manning era, and he traveled to New York to watch the Orange Crush get crushed. While there, McKee also had the onions to ask NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell a fairly personal question. We caught up with Darren while he was stuck in an airport in St. Louis.
NUVO: Before we get to this horrible game, I have to ask you: Were you the guy who asked the Commissioner of the NFL if he used weed?
Darren McKee: I was! That was me! You proud of me?
What I said was: In light of how concerned the NFL has been regarding the health and safety of players, isn't it time to consider not advocating for the use of marijuana, but simply not testing for it? There are medicinal benefits to it, and the two states participating in the Super Bowl have already legalized it. Then I threw in the zinger: "Are you willing to be tested for marijuana?"
His response was interesting. He IS randomly tested. But I'll ask you this: NFL players ... they're all million-dollar players, right? Okay, I know there are younger guys who don't make as much, but even those guys are deep into six figures. How many companies have million-dollar or six-figure employees who are randomly drug tested for marijuana?
If you want to talk about performance-enhancing drugs, fine. But not marijuana. They're not operating heavy machinery or driving an 18-wheeler. You don't test for Bud Light. Everybody's all choked up about the puppy-smoochin'-the-horse beer commercial, but Goddell [responded by] talking about "addictive substances." Alcohol isn't?
I'm not a pothead. I've smoked marijuana a handful of times. I'm not asking for my own benefit. Since marijuana was legalized in Colorado, I've not gone into any of those places that sell weed. But I've talked to two ex-NFL players who played for a combined 22 years and smoked marijuana their entire careers. One of them's Nate Jackson, who wrote a book about his experience in the NFL and details it, so I feel OK using his name. The other player's never really admitted it, so we'll keep his name out of this.RELATED CONTENT: We chatted with McKee when the Broncos played the Colts in Oct. of 2013
Nate and this other player — they're convinced that smoking marijuana ... helped them get through their aches and pains in a more healthy way [than other drugs]. I know a player on the Denver Broncos who suffered some terrible injuries this year, and he smokes marijuana on a regular basis ... he claims it helps him get over the pains and the aches and assists with his rehab.
You don't have to advocate for it, just stop testing for it. As for me – I'm now known as the "weed guy," 'cause I've gained over 9,000 followers on Twitter in the past four days since I asked that question.
NUVO: I think we can both agree that had you been high, Super Bowl 48 might've been somewhat more entertaining.
McKee: It would have been so much more fun. Like a dream; something that didn't actually exist. You know what's funny about that? The first thing that I did after that game was go out and get hammered. Now, I'm not driving, I'm staying in a hotel and I drank at a bar across the street. I didn't do anything terribly irresponsible, but I certainly didn't improve my performance in any way.
NUVO: Because the Broncos looked so unprepared and so disorganized going into the Super Bowl, is there some blame to be shared by the coaching staff here?
McKee: That's a good question. That's something we'll have to dig into. Defensively, too, they couldn't tackle. The Broncos had no takeaways. No turnovers for in the positive column the entire playoffs. I hate to make excuses, but they were missing quite a few of their starters. Derek Wolfe, Rahim Moore, Kevin Vickerson, Chris Harris ... Champ Bailey wasn't the same all year; Von Miller ... there were like seven starters who weren't available.
NUVO: Broncos head coach John Fox has said that judging Peyton Manning's season — or career — by that game is "ludicrous." But there's a history here. Manning has a losing record in the playoffs. To Fox's point, however, what I saw was a complete and total collapse in every phase of the game by the Broncos. Would you agree with that take?RELATED CONTENT: Farewell, Peyton
McKee: I couldn't believe what I was seeing, Ed. I've never seen anything like it. Peyton had a terrible game. He personally had a terrible game. That first botched snap — it was his fault. Three and out the next possession. A pick six; a bad interception. Balls are overthrown or underthrown. He seemed to be completely shaken up by that Seattle defense.
He's faced other ferocious pass rushes, but nothing like the total package from Seattle. Everybody talks about the Broncos offense as the best offense of all time — which I believe it is — but we are seeing one of the top two or three defenses of all time in Seattle.
NUVO: Up there with the 1985 Chicago Bears?
McKee: They've got to be. The Bears didn't have to stop the best offense. They played the  Patriots. No one would ever compare that Patriots offense to this year's Broncos.