Editor’s note: The Charlotte Observer and the Denver Post agreed to have a little fun leading up to Sunday night’s Super Bowl. The Observer’s Taylor Batten took on the Post’s Jeremy Meyer over which team hails from the better city.
I must have been stoned when I agreed to do this. Why would anyone with a clear head and not affected by altitude sickness agree to take on the challenge of portraying the mile-high city of Denver as inferior to Charlotte?
I don’t stand a chance. My only hope is that all the Denver Post subscribers can’t read this because they are stuck in their daily parking lot hell known as I-70 or I-25. Or at least that they’re so apathetic from smoking their legalized weed that they don’t bother to email me their thoughts.
There are people who can read in Denver, after all. It’s not everyone who’s being left behind by Denver Public Schools. A national report last fall found that Denver’s better-off kids are doing OK. It’s the 70 percent of kids who are poor who suffer from the worst achievement gaps in the nation.
Yes, I have my work cut out for me, because Denver is the greatest place on earth, filled with the most stunning, most active, most beautiful people. Don’t take it from me. Just ask them, they’ll tell you. And tell you and tell you.
These are outdoor-loving people. On weekends they hop in their Range Rovers and skid down their driveways headed for fun activities such as skiing, snowboarding and hopping over the homeless people who fill the downtown sidewalks.
The skiing is great, I’ll grant you that. It’s only if you want to do anything else with your life that the weather becomes a problem. It snows as much in Denver in the average October as it snows in Charlotte all year. Denver residents boast about all their days of sunshine (among endless other things), but you haven’t lived until you’ve watched a storm from hell whip up on Denver within minutes.
Really, what’s not to like about a place where the temperature drops below freezing 156 days a year? In Denver, they point out that it has hit 20-below-zero or colder “only” 30 times since 1872.
It’s OK; you can stay warm by standing near the wildfire.
It must be that kind of weather that drives so many people in Colorado to do drugs. It’s not only the legal doobies. The state ranks at or near the top nationally for alcohol consumption and for cocaine and other illicit drug use. (Presumably, this doesn’t include their signature beer, Coors, which is closer to water than to a world’s-best beer like, say, Charlotte’s own Hop Drop ’N Roll from NoDa Brewing.)
Of course, if you paid $2,000 a month for a basic two-bedroom apartment, you’d be looking for a coping mechanism too.
Charlotte can’t even top Denver on the sports scene, because the cities are so similar. The Panthers and Broncos meet in the Super Bowl, of course. Both have NBA franchises, in the Hornets and Nuggets. And both have minor-league level baseball, with the Knights and the Rockies.
I give up. Denver is too great. There is simply no better city to live in if you want to be in a place that thinks of “South Park” as high culture and that ranks last in kids’ vaccinations, last in funding for state universities and first for sexually active women.
Plus, when you get the munchies during the Super Bowl, you can feast on the local specialty: bull testicles.
Reach Charlotte Observer Editorial Page Editor Taylor Batten at email@example.com; on Twitter: @tbatten1.
For important football contests, it is much better when you can’t stand your rival.
In Denver, fans love to hate the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks. We don’t like the teams, their cities or their fans. We do love those games, especially those that end in victory.
But the Carolina Panthers? What’s to hate? The teams have played only four times (with the Broncos winning three). And Carolina, like New England, has to gather up more than one state to be relevant enough to host a football team.
The Panteras wear a charming powder blue on their uniforms, their players hand footballs to children after touchdowns and they represent an entire region that epitomizes Southern hospitality.
Where can a fired-up Broncos fan direct his or her ire?
That raises a question: What is Carolina? It’s not a state or a city, only a concept that singer James Taylor can’t seem to get out of his mind.
We know North Carolina was home to the fictional TV town of Mayberry, where, gosh darn it, Aunt Bee has a pecan pie on the windowsill, Opie is barefoot by the fishing hole and Andy is waiting for a haircut from Floyd the barber.
That doesn’t exactly bring to mind smash-mouth football.
Yet, the Mayberry Pussycats are supposedly fierce competitors, losing only one game this season and handily vanquishing their NFC competitors. Even more impressive: the team was led by a quarterback who still proudly wears Zubaz pants.
Charlotte, where the Kitty Cats play their home games, isn’t an easy target for smack talk in the way of Cleveland, Detroit or Walla Walla. So we asked Denver Post staffers with ties to the South about their impressions.
From the paper’s resident Southerner Joey Bunch: “Charlotte should be named ‘Seinfeld,’ because it’s a city about nothing. … Tobacco is considered a vegetable. The state bird is a mosquito. The Wright Brothers invented the airplane – and the plane crash – at Kitty Hawk. And it’s a great place to visit … if you’re a hurricane.” (He’s here all week, folks.)
From feature writer and former North Carolinian William Porter: “Charlotte is overrun with Jaycees and Junior Leaguers, folks on the make whose kids’ first names sound like most people’s last names. Taylor, Porter, Payne, Ellington — and those are just the girls.”
Charlotte is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Billy Graham Library, and its football team is owned by the guy who created Hardee’s, maybe America’s fifth-favorite burger-and-fries fast food empire.
As a contrast, Colorado has conquering mountains, more than 300 craft breweries and enough legal marijuana to make Cam Newton’s wardrobe start to make a little sense.
But the most notable difference is football.
The Denver Broncos were established 56 years ago, compared to the Tomcats’ 1995 entry.
The Broncos’ eight Super Bowl appearances are tied for the most with Pittsburgh and Dallas, and Denver won two of those – compared to Carolina’s lone Super Bowl loss. (Make that two after Sunday.)
There is one thing that would rile the blood of the Broncos’ faithful – if the Mayberry Mousers somehow found a way to spoil what is likely Peyton Manning’s retirement party.
But we know that won’t happen. It would not be proper Southern hospitality. What would Aunt Bee think?
E-mail Jeremy Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: jpmeyerdpost