When the tragic news of Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley's death by possible suicide broke earlier this week, Broncos fans couldn't help but think of 2007 when cornerback Darrent Williams was murdered and running back Damien Nash collapsed playing in a charity basketball game and never came back to life. All three didn't live to see their 25th birthdays.
Considering this recent spate of tragedies that have befallen the Broncos organization, many fans have been asking if the Broncos are cursed.
The short answer is: no.
In a league where teams field 53 men on their active roster in addition to countless practice squad players rotating in and out of the organization, it's inevitable that all facets of life - however tragic they may be - will be experienced in the locker room. But that certainly doesn't make anyone who works for, plays for, or closely follows the Broncos feel any better.
Certainly, the Broncos have had their lion's share of tragedy in comparison to other NFL teams. I can't remember a time in NFL history when three active players have died within such a short window of time, nevermind having three active players die during the entire history of a franchise.
But I don't believe curses are at work here, just tragically poor luck.
I must confess that I knew virtually nothing about McKinley in advance of his death. While I've watched every Broncos game since I've been able to walk, I've never been good at keeping tabs on an ever-changing 53-man roster. But if the Sunday NFL viewer like me may not have known much about McKinley - a special teams player and backup wide receiver for much of his time in Denver - he may as well have been a starter to his teammates and coaching staff. The outpouring of emotions and positive stories about their recently deceased teammates have been quite moving and a private memorial service has been prepared in McKinley's honor for Friday at Dove Valley.
Kenny McKinley wasn't immune to the pressures and struggles that we all face in our day-to-day lives. It's all relative, of course, but there has been much speculation that his second season-ending knee injury within one year led to his alleged suicide. After all, how would you and I feel if we reached the pinnacle of our profession only to have it taken away from us twice within one year?
But just like McKinley wasn't immune to the emotional struggles many people in our society face, the Broncos organization isn't immune to the peaks and valleys of every day life. Misfortune has found its way to professional football in Denver more than any of us care to experience, but it has nothing to do with this team or this city. I hope fans keep that in perspective as they mourn the loss of McKinley and look back to the sad losses of Williams and Nash.
When the Broncos take the field against the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday it will be a highly emotional atmosphere at Invesco Field, to say the least. Kenny McKinley and his family will be in our thoughts this Sunday and for many Sundays beyond.