Durango football fans will no doubt park themselves in front of a TV with snacks, drinks and friends this Super Bowl Sunday. But a select few will be at the game, including one former resident who will fly over the stadium in a fighter jet.
U.S. Marine Corps Major Jeff Kuss, a member of the 2016 Blue Angels team, is one of six pilots expected to buzz Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, about one second after Lady Gaga finishes belting out the National Anthem.
Kuss is a 2002 graduate of Durango High School and a 2006 graduate of Fort Lewis College, with a degree in economics. His parents are Janet and Michael Kuss, who manage Durango Glass.
“It’s a big honor,” said Kuss, who joined the elite U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron last year and spoke with The Durango Herald on Friday. “We don’t get to do these flyovers very often, so it’s definitely a treat to be able to do it this year.
“I’m a huge Broncos fan,” he said. “I’ve watched them growing up with my family. I follow them through thick and thin. They always make you stay on the edge of your seat until the last minute.”
For those with both feet on the ground, there are plenty of opportunities to watch the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers starting at 4:35 p.m. MST.
If you’re planning to stay home, you can tune in on CBS. If you don’t have cable or satellite, there are several other ways to watch the game free, including streaming it on CBS Sports’ website or downloading the CBS Sports or National Football League apps on devices that support them (including Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and iOS or Android mobile devices).
If you’d rather socialize with fellow Broncos fans, pretty much every bar and brewery in town will show the game. Or you can wax the skis and head to Purgatory Resort, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary by offering $50 lift tickets and showing the 50th Super Bowl.
“Ski before the big game and enjoy the slopes, and then stay for the party,” said Kim Oyler, spokeswoman for the resort. “We have several venues that will have a big screen with the game on it, including Purgy’s, Hoody’s and Paradise Pizzeria.”
This year marks the eighth time the Denver Broncos have advanced to the Super Bowl, a record number of appearances (tied with the New England Patriots). Of the seven games that have been played, the Broncos have lost five, another NFL record. The only wins came back-to-back in 1998 and 1999. The last time the Broncos made it to the Super Bowl was in 2014, when they lost 43-8 to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Carolina Panthers have been to the Super Bowl only once, in 2004, when they lost 32-29 to the New England Patriots.
Durango may be 350 miles from Denver, but it’s not without its diehard Broncos fans. One resident used the snow in his front yard to sculpt a playing field featuring the Broncos stallion. He used spray paint to give it color.
Durango resident Al Harper was put in a unique position this year: He’s the owner of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Southwest Colorado and the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad in North Carolina.
Both railroads decorated for the Super Bowl by placing flags from their respective teams on the front of their locomotives. Employees of the winning team will receive a pizza party, Harper said. The losers will sing a song for the winning team. The song hasn’t been selected, he said.
“I live in Colorado, I am rooting for the Broncos all the way,” Harper said Friday. “But it’s going to cost me pizza, whatever happens.”
As for Kuss, 32, he said it’s an honor to be part of the Super Bowl, but more importantly it’s about representing the men and women who serve in the U.S. military.
The Blue Angels will fly blue and gold F/A-18 Hornets in a Delta Formation. Kuss will be in the No. 6 jet. Afterward, the pilots will load into cars and battle traffic to make it to the stadium, where they will be treated to the game.
Sorry, Broncos fans: The Blue Angels have no plans to release blue and orange contrails over Levi’s Stadium.
“We thought about painting ‘Go Broncos’ on the bottom, but the rest of the team didn’t go for it,” Kuss said. “We’ve got some Patriot fans and Carolina fans.”