Barrel Man, R.I.P.

The NFL has lost one of the great ones.  And this one was not a player, coach, or general manager.

Tim “Barrel Man” McKernan has passed away at the age of 69.

Tim "Barrel Man" McKernan

One of the best known “superfans” in the world of sports, McKernan missed only four Denver Bronco games from 1967-2007, when the barrel was formally retired due to McKernan’s health issues.

Sure, the idea of a grown man attending football games in little more than a barrel and suspenders is crazy.  And, yes, only a certain few would ever don the barrel on a dare – as McKernan first did in 1977 – much less spend 30 years in such a get-up. 

But there is no denying that the passion of Barrel Man and others like him personifies the rabid interest that the NFL has maintained in ascending to the throne of American professional sports. 

In fact, Barrel Man is likely the second person most outside of Denver think of when the Broncos come to mind.  Only John Elway has more instant recognition as the face of the team. 

And that is because, even if we would never dream of painting our faces or wearing barrels, NFL fans feel the passion for their teams that Barrel Man brought to life in a literal – and bizarre – fashion.

His grandkids grew up “knowing grandpa in the barrel” and we knew Barrel Man as a breed of fan who could never get enough of those 16 NFL Sundays in the fall rooting for his team.

For an in-depth profile of Barrel Man, check out this 2006 interview with CBS4 This Morning anchor Brooke Wagner from her weekly interview series, Breakfast With Brooke.

Good stuff that gives you a little more insight into McKernan, who comes off as a regular guy – which you would expect from a former United Airlines mechanic.

The Broncos will be trying to win one for Barrel Man – not to mention their playoff lives – tomorrow against the Kansas City Chiefs.

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~ by acm213 on December 5, 2009.

One Response to “Barrel Man, R.I.P.”

  1. no one can replace The Barrel Man. He was one true Bronco fan. You guys win one today for him.

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