Denver's sweet success: It's in the water

In dueling columns, two writers tell why their cities are superior onSuper Bowl eve. The winner gets a week in the rival city. The loser, two.

Oh, Atlanta, you're the sweetest peach I've ever known. But frankly, my dear ... this is war.

Oh, I know. Dan Reeves has been there plenty of times before. But it was the Broncos who took him there.

The closest your dirty birds have been to the Super Bowl was as spectators when Atlanta hosted the big game five years ago.

You not only have never won the big game, you've never played the big game before. And we're not just trying to win, we're defending.

Here, I'll give you a hint why we're going to take you down. It's in the water.

You laugh, but it's true. There's something in the cool, clear Rocky Mountain spring water that flows down from the glaciers that gives us the edge.

What do you do with your water? You make that syrupy sweet Coca-Cola. You use tepid bath water from Lake Lanier to grow peaches.

We take water out of the mighty Colorado River, or the Roaring Fork and the Frying Pan to grow beef and buffalo. When's the last time the Broncos sat down for a pre-game meal and ordered a slab of peaches? Sorry.

Even our politicians are tougher than yours. How about that puff-daddy Newt Gingrich, the guy with peach fuzz who doesn't shave yet? Or put your Bill Campbell up against our Campbell - Ben Nighthorse. Even our mayor, Wellington Webb, is big enough to play offensive tackle.

I'm telling you. It's in the water.

A woman I knew in Atlanta used to boast how her city was one of the highest metropolitan areas in the United States. I think it's something like 1,000 feet high. From there, she was ecstatic about going UP to the north Georgia mountains.

Mountains? Get real! Our baseball stadium has a row of purple seats higher than any peak Georgia ever dreamed of. That row is exactly a mile high - 5,280 feet. And from there we go up, to well over 14,000 feet.

There are 54 places in Colorado higher than 14,000 feet. We have pavement above 14,000 feet - enough that we have bicycle races up there every summer. Don't see any dirty birds soaring up there. Biggest problem are the bighorn sheep getting in the way. They like to stand on the road and beg for your Power Bars.

Speaking of pavement, what can a city say for itself after naming 55 streets after it's most famous fruit? How original can you get?

And what's someone to think about a place that names its worst traffic jams "Spaghetti Junction?" Why doesn't your rapid transit go outside the city limits?

And what about a team that calls itself "A rambling wreck?" Or a state where the biggest agricultural crop is kudzu?

I could go on. But I admit: There are some advantages to Atlanta.

You have Ray Charles. We have John Denver. You have Margaret Mitchell. We have Hunter Thompson. And, yes, you took away our favorite food critic, John Kessler.

But Stone Mountain does not compare to the Rocky Mountains. Stick to college football, Atlanta. You're much better at it. Take your Saturday afternoons and drive over to Alabama, or Knoxville, or Athens.

Leave the Sunday games to the Broncos, who have sold out every single home game for 25 years. Your fly-away Falcons have had 39 home games blacked out since 1992 because you couldn't find enough fans to buy a ticket. Maybe you know something, and won't admit it.

Denver is a sports town. People here know how to support our players. We paint our houses orange with a blue stripe. Cab companies use John Elway's jersey number (7) to tout their phone numbers. And who else but John Elway's automobile dealerships sell more cars than any other dealership in the country?

We know how to treat our players. Three years ago it was Denver with the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup. Last year, it was Denver with the Super Bowl championship.

And here we are again, in your face, looking for a repeat.

If I were you, I'd head to church on Sunday, the way you always do. But stay there this time and pray. It's not going to be pretty.

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