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Thursday, August 14, 2008
Updated: August 27, 9:36 PM ET
Stories from the stands: AFC West

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Denver Broncos
Ken Robinette

A quarter-million and counting. That's how many miles on the road Ken Robinette and his wife, Annette, have logged between their house in North Little Rock, Ark., and Denver, home of their beloved Broncos.

"It's basically a 32-hour drive for our 'home games,'" Robinette said about the 2,000-mile round-trip.

Annette and Ken Robinette
Colorado or bust: Annette and Ken Robinette.
Robinette, 61, a self-employed contractor, started vacationing in Colorado in the 1970s, drawn by the state's great outdoors.

He soon found himself rooting for the Broncos and their vaunted Orange Crush Defense.

After 14 years on the waiting list, the Robinettes finally were granted season tickets in 1991.

After driving all day on Saturday for Sunday games, the Robinettes are up early on game day to tailgate in the Mile High parking lot.

They proudly hoist dueling Broncos and Razorbacks flags and take out their sign that aptly states, "Broncomania is alive and well in Arkansas."

— Christopher Klein

Kansas City Chiefs
Monte Short

NFL superstars certainly are used to suffering the crowd's slings and arrows during road games.

But Chiefs devotee Monte Short takes the concept to another level.
Monte Short
Yep, Monte Short is an arrowhead, but he's sure got the Chiefs' backs.

The land developer from Independence, Mo., shows up at Arrowhead Stadium donning the jersey of one of the opposing team's marquee players riddled with arrows.

Now known as "Arrowman," Short didn't intend to make his unique garb a game-day ritual.

"It was an off-the-wall thing that I thought I'd do just once, but then the fans in my section booed me when I returned as a regular fan," said Short, 54, whose love of the Chiefs dates back to their AFL glory days.

Before games, Arrowman takes jerseys he's either bought himself or received from other fans, cuts holes in them and glues on arrows.

The jersey that's been impaled the most? John Elway's.

— Christopher Klein

Oakland Raiders
Charles Ybarra

Charles Ybarra doesn't just read and study about Raiders tradition; he lives it every Sunday when the Silver and Black take the field in Oakland.
Charles Ybarra
Charles Ybarra hopes opponents underestimate his Dark Side.

Before getting dressed up as "Darth Raider" -- a football variation of the menacing "Star Wars" villain who uses The Force, or any other means necessary, to bring home victory -- Ybarra comes face to face with what owner Al Davis would call "the greatness of the Raiders."

Ybarra drives to the games with the family of Hall of Fame center Jim Otto, one of the truly great Raiders (1960-74) you always seem to see pictured with dirt all over his face and uniform, and a grit and determination that symbolizes the glory days of the franchise.

Yet with those fine times largely behind them, the Raiders still have unwavering fans such as Ybarra who are waiting for better days to arrive.

And he'll be ready when they do.

"As a die-hard Raider fan, all you need is to be able to believe," said Ybarra, 35, a quality-assurance software engineer from Fremont, Calif. "I can't imagine doing anything else on a Sunday afternoon."

— Stuart Levine

San Diego Chargers
Daniel Tapia

Daniel Tapia's mother never wanted her son to play football, not even Pop Warner. Too dangerous, she said. Well, how would she feel now?

Not only does Tapia put on his uniform -- pads and all -- for games, he's walking around with lightning bolts! But no worries, Mom.

Daniel Tapia
Daniel Tapia uses his alter ego
to spark the Qualcomm crowd.
Tapia, 24, of Chula Vista, Calif., isn't mixing it up on the field, just releasing his inner fan in support of his beloved Chargers as "Mr. Lightning."

"My dad's not that big of a fan of football, so I don't know where all of this came from," said Tapia, a customer-service rep in the retail trade who's studying to become a paralegal.

It all began innocuously, actually. Before heading to the stadium one Sunday a few years back, he and his girlfriend, Alma Bermudez, decided to paint their faces.

"It kind of went downhill from there," he said with a laugh.

Now Tapia suits up before games not only for himself, but for all the folks around him who share his passion for all things Chargers.

"I always try to hype up the crowd," he explained. "Right now, it's all I can think about."

— Stuart Levine

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