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Of Mules And Men - A Tragicomedy In Three Acts

Today we bring you the first act of a three act saga telling the real story behind Brock Osweiler's move from Denver to Houston; or at least how I'd like to imagine it went.

Hero.  Villain.  Tragic Figure.  Tall.
Hero. Villain. Tragic Figure. Tall.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Act I, Scene 1



Sitting at his locker, his head covered by a towel is young BROCK OSWEILER, 25, focusing on the music blasting through his iPod.

OSWEILER (singing):  So now I coooooooooooooooooome to yooooooooooooooooooooooou, with oooooooooooooooooopen aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarms...

Standing over Osweiler, patiently waiting to get a word in, is Denver Broncos head coach GARY KUBIAK, 54.

KUBIAK:  Brock.

OSWEILER (continues jamming to Journey)...


OSWEILER (looks up suddenly):  Sir?

KUBIAK:  Time to go to work, son.

OSWEILER (smiles):  Yes, sir!

OSWEILER walks to the middle of the locker room.

OSWEILER:  Everybody, listen up!

The locker room goes silent.  All eyes are on BROCK OSWEILER.

OSWEILER:  It's the last game of the season.  If we take care of business here, we get the top seed in the AFC Playoffs.  We'd control our own destiny going to the Super Bowl.  Let's go out there and kick some ass!

Players erupt in cheers, except for PEYTON MANNING, 168, who sits in glum silence, his eyes focused like lasers on OSWEILER.

The team exits the locker room, leaving KUBIAK and PEYTON.

KUBIAK:  C'mon, Peyton, let's go.

A gentle knock on the wall signifies the entrance of JOHN ELWAY, 56, to the locker room.

ELWAY:  Gary, Peyton, could I have a couple minutes?

KUBIAK and PEYTON enter a room adjoining the locker room.  There are tables lined with towels in the center of it.  In the distance, a row of whirlpool tubs stand silent and empty.

KUBIAK:  What's up, John?  I got a game to coach.

ELWAY:  Yeah, about that.

A thin smile curls on PEYTON'S lips.  He stands next to ELWAY.

ELWAY:  This may or may not be Peyton's last year.  If it is his last year, he should get a chance to lead the team on a Super Bowl run.

KUBIAK:  But Osweiler's been doing pretty well out there.


KUBIAK:  He's been okay.  I've done way more with way less than I'm getting out of Brock.

ELWAY:  Exactly!  And that's why I trust you can get us to the Super Bowl with Peyton at the helm.

PEYTON glares at ELWAY.

PEYTON:  I didn't come to Denver just to let someone else win a Lombardi out from under me.  I want another title!

KUBIAK (under breath):  Could have fooled me after Super Bowl XLVIII.

PEYTON:  What?

KUBIAK:  Nothing.

ELWAY:  Look, I know you like these battlefighters like Brock, but, for the good of the franchise, it's Peyton's time to shine.

PEYTON:  Again.

ELWAY (sighs):  Again.

KUBIAK:  How do I break it to him?  Brock is going to be crushed.

ELWAY:  Don't you worry about that.  I've already had a chat with Demaryius, Emmanuel, Owen and Vernon and the rest.  They'll make your decision in about the third quarter or so really easy.


Act I, Scene 2


The game against San Diego went poorly, as ELWAY promised, until the middle of the third quarter, where the Chargers scored a touchdown after Broncos running back C.J. ANDERSON fumbled the ball on a running play.  The score is 13-7 Chargers.


KUBIAK:  Brock!  Hold up a second.


OSWEILER:  Yeah, Coach?

KUBIAK:  Why don't you go sit on the bench for a bit?  Take a breather.


KUBIAK:  It doesn't look good out there, and I don't want to risk you getting hurt before the postseason.

OSWEILER:  We're still in this!  I know I haven't played well today.  It feels like the team is just not on the same page today, for some reason.

PEYTON:  Yeah, those things happen sometimes.

OSWEILER turns, sees PEYTON carrying his helmet, ready--too ready to some--to head onto the field.  His face drops.

OSWEILER:  C'mon, Coach.  Let me finish this game out.

KUBIAK (sadly):  Go sit down, Brock.

PEYTON:  Yeah, go sit down.

KUBIAK (stares at PEYTON):  Get in there, Peyton.

OSWEILER plops down, rips his helmet off, and slams it on the bench next to him.

VON MILLER, 27, walks past OSWEILER and shakes his head.

MILLER:  Getting benched after a play that wasn't your fault.  That ain't right, man.

KUBIAK walks up to OSWEILER still on the bench. OSWEILER doesn't face him.

KUBIAK:  Look, I know you're disappointed.  You've done some good things out there.  Today's performance wasn't on you, it was on me.  I know this isn't going to make any of this feel any better, but chew on this;  Peyton's going to retire after this year and when he does, this team will be all yours.  Nobody else breathing down your neck, nobody else looking over your shoulder, it'll be your team.  So if you just stay patient for a few weeks, you'll have your team back.

OSWEILER (looks up at KUBIAK):  And if Peyton plays badly in the playoffs?

KUBIAK:  Let's just take it one step at a time, okay?

After OSWEILER's benching, the Broncos scored 20 points on two running touchdowns and a couple of field goals, winning the game 27-20.


Act I, Scene 3



OSWEILER walks into the room wearing an immaculate suit.  He sits down at the table, wincing at the brightness of the lights in his face and the flashes from the cameras. BRONCOS SPOKESMAN, late 40s, stands off to the side, out of view of the cameras.

BRONCOS SPOKESMAN:  Mr. Osweiler will now take your questions.  Yes, you in the front.

In the front row of the press room is JASON LA CANFORA, 40s, wearing the supercilious air of someone who thinks himself more important than he really is.

LA CANFORA:  Yeah, Jason La Canfora, CBS Sports.  Hi Brock, tell me, how does it feel to see Peyton Manning make his triumphant return at quarterback?


LA CANFORA:  I said how does it feel to see Peyton Manning rescue the team from your mediocrity under center?

OSWEILER:  Peyton is an incredible quarterback.  We're grateful he's on our side.

LA CANFORA:  I bet you are.  Is it a relief that you no longer have to worry about your team having to dig its way out of a hole now that you're not the starting quarterback anymore?

OSWEILER:  I'm...not sure what you're asking.

LA CANFORA:  Would you say that it's safe to say that Peyton Manning is your personal savior protecting you from being a completely awful quarterback?

OSWEILER:  What kind of--



ELWAY and KUBIAK watch the press conference unfold. ELWAY smiles mischievously while KUBIAK frowns at how the media is tearing into his quarterback.

KUBIAK:  What is the point of this?  It's bad enough I benched him, despite his battlefighty attitude.

ELWAY looks at KUBIAK confusedly at the unusual word his coach just created.

KUBIAK (cont'd.):  But then to subject him to the third degree like this?  It's not right, John.

ELWAY:  He's going to have to learn to take the hard questions if he's going to lead the team.

KUBIAK:  He is going to lead the team next year, right?

ELWAY (pauses):  Of course.

KUBIAK:  Here's what I want to know:  how did you get such a compliant lackey to go along with this plan of yours?

ELWAY:  Oh, that was the easy part.  Some people are so desperate for attention and desperate for access that they'll bend over backwards to make it happen.  Once I found out that La Canfora had a shrine dedicated to me in one of his closets at home, the rest fell into place easily.

KUBIAK:  But how do you know you can trust him?  I've heard stories about his trustworthiness; like this one time he welched on a bet with a radio host in Seattle.  If he's gonna do someone dirty like that, what stops him from turning on you the same way?

ELWAY:  Have you seen some of the things he has of me in his closet?  No, no.  Trust me, if he betrays me, 20 tons of premium grade hell will be dropped on him all at once.

KUBIAK (uneasily):  I...see.

ELWAY:  Same thing with these losers on the internet.  I sent the high command at one of the big Bronco fan blogs, I forget which one exactly, some talking points about how to handle this story.  I don't even have to threaten them to get what I want; I just have to ask and they'll fall all over themselves just to make me happy.

KUBIAK:  I guess so.  I just hope you know what you're doing.  I can see so many ways this could all backfire.

ELWAY (places hand on KUBIAK'S shoulder):  Relax, Gary.  Everything is going according to plan.

End Act I