Lose a game as the Broncos did on a frigid day in January and an occasional dose of gallows humor can help.
The joke going around Dove Valley this offseason: Had the Joe Flacco final-second rainbow got knocked away instead of landing in the arms of Jacoby Jones, it would have been Trindon Holliday who landed the gig on "Dancing with the Stars" instead of the Ravens receiver.
"Yeah, I've heard that one," Holliday said Tuesday. "But I don't think I would have been on 'Dancing with the Stars.' That's not my type of deal."
Holliday, a tiny, speedy returner, should be an NFL star. With 41 seconds remaining in the Broncos' second-round AFC playoff game on Jan. 12, Holliday was the star.
He had returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown early in the first quarter, then started the second half with a 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Both returns put the Broncos up by a touchdown. The Broncos were up 35-28 with 41 seconds left in regulation when Flacco stepped up in the pocket.
At that point, Holliday was the difference in the game. No NFL player ever had scored touchdowns on a punt return and a kickoff return in the same playoff game. He would be written up prominently in the next day's paper. He would have been doing network interviews all the way through Super Bowl week, had the Broncos made it that far.
Instead, Flacco's heave landed in Jones' arms, and the 70-yard touchdown tied the game 35-35 with 31 seconds left. Baltimore won the game in double overtime, Jones had another big game in the Ravens' Super Bowl win, and the returner-receiver became a superb dancer who was tied for first place among the five "Dancing" finalists heading into Tuesday night's elimination show.
What might have been for Trindon Holliday ...
"I haven't been thinking about how I would have been the hero if the outcome had been different," Holliday said. "That didn't really go through my mind. It was a team effort."
Onward to a new season. The decline in recent years of the Chicago Bears' Devin Hester means Holliday will enter this season as one of the top five returners in the game. He might even be the most feared. He was one of only two players who had four touchdown returns, counting the postseason, last season. Wouldn't you know it, Jones was the other.