Mile High magic: Broncos fan’s retirement dreams come true

Mile High magic: Broncos fan’s retirement dreams come true 

Francisco Cordova Empower Field photo

In football, you make a game plan. 

In retirement, you make a bucket list. 

For Francisco Cordova, a lifelong Denver Broncos fan, being able to check off every box was like a dream come true.

“Mile High magic,” he said. 

“There’s nothing better than a Broncos gameday,” Cordova added. “It has a special way of bringing people together.”  

While Cordova won’t be in attendance for the Broncos’ home opener against the New York Jets at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday, he was able to take a memorable trip to Denver during the preseason.

Cordova and his wife made the seven-hour drive from their hometown of Albuquerque to the Mile High City for team’s final exhibition tilt against the Los Angeles Rams at the end of August. His wife planned the getaway to celebrate both his birthday and retirement. Cordova, age 46, couldn’t have asked for a better gift.  

“It was so loud,” said Cordova, who recently retired from the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center after serving 23 years. 

“I’ll never forget it.”

Cordova came prepared, too. 

He figured if he was going to be at his first Broncos game in more than a decade, he better make the most of the moment. 

Empower Associate Francisco Cordova at Empower Field Denver Broncos

“We had great lower-level seats, so we really wanted to enjoy the entire experience,” Cordova said. “We were excited.”

So, like many diehard supporters in Broncos Country, Cordova was not only decked out in orange and blue gear that evening, but he also created and flashed a handwritten sign for everyone in the stands to see. “I was like a kid in a candy store,” he said. “I couldn’t stop smiling.” That’s because his artwork, which was titled “Retirement Bucket List,” stood out from the crowd as it featured four of his biggest wishes: 

  • Broncos tickets
  • Von Miller jersey
  • Von Miller autograph 
  • Broncos win   

Of course, after successfully marking off the top two items, Cordova needed a little help to achieve the rest of his goals. 

“It was all just for fun,” said Cordova, who is a proud dad and grandpa to five children and soon-to-be six grandkids. 

As luck would have it, Cordova and his poster were captured on the giant video board at Empower Field, building even more awareness and anticipation. In fact, a representative from the Broncos organization even met with him in his section to gather more information and lend a hand. While he couldn’t guarantee more points on the scoreboard, he could mail Cordova a mini helmet signed by Von Miller. 

A few hours later, the Broncos put an exclamation point on the night as they held on to beat the Rams in a defensive battle. 

“I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I was so thankful,” Cordova said. “Everything was perfect. We had an absolute blast.”

To Cordova, rooting on the Broncos every Sunday, whether in person or on TV, has always been a fall tradition. 

Francisco Cordova Empower Field scoreboard

And a much-needed mental timeout. 

In his career, Cordova worked 10 years as a correctional officer at a county jail before transferring to the gang and transport unit. Even though he’s retired, the memories of all the high-profile cases, courthouse trials and personal attacks he witnessed haven’t left his mind. “I saw a lot of awful, unimaginable things,” said Cordova, who suffers from PTSD, anxiety and depression. “I’m still dealing with a ton of stress and emotions.”

Once again, though, his passion for the Broncos reminded him there is a lot of good to cheer about in his world. 

“I love the Broncos and the community there,” Cordova said. “They’ve provided me with so much happiness in my life.”

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