Chiefs fan? Pushovers. Steelers fans? Soft. To hear Quinn Meinerz tell it, no crowd in the AFC holds a candle to the kind of razzing it had a few months ago at the Arapahoe Bowling Center, where rookies are better at checking their egos at the door.
“My first throw with the ball went straight into the gutter,” the Broncos’ second-year offensive lineman recalled with a chuckle after the second day of preseason camp ended Thursday at the UCHealth Training Center.
“And there was a whole bunch of people from the league (there) and they just yelled, ‘You got zero, you (stink).
“And it was like 20 people screaming it. So I was like, ‘Dang, this is hard.’ “
Eventually, however, the big paw won them over. At the end of the night, these same league people were giving him advice.
“There were actually a lot more people bowling who knew who I was,” Meinerz reflected, “than I really expected, to be honest.”
Then again, even with his new, more svelte physique, #77 in orange is awfully hard to miss.
A cult hero who went viral knocking down trees with his bare hands in the spring of 2021, Meinerz captured the hearts of Broncos Country before he even recorded a snap, thanks to long, flowing locks, a 6-foot-3, 330- book frame that basically looked like a beer keg with legs, and a practice video aimed at NFL teams that looked like a Highland Games mixtape.
“He never gives up,” veteran left tackle Garett Bolles said of Meinerz, who was drafted in the third round of the 2021 Wisconsin-Whitewater Division III draft and went on to make nine starts as a rookie l last fall. “He is always working to improve. And I like guys like that. I want guys like that in our bedroom.
The guy left practice on Thursday with his jersey tucked in, having lost 10 pounds from his rookie frame – more vegetables, less rice, leaner meats – as well as some inhibitions along the way.
In the spring, Meinerz proposed to his girlfriend Alexis Thompson. Sorry ladies, The Gut is officially off the market.
“I guess a fun new fact is that she’s teaching me the ukulele,” Meinerz explained. “So I’m learning to play the tenor ukulele. The way our relationship works, I’m learning the ukulele for her. And she’s learning bowling for me.
The tree-growing cat learns to play the tenor ukulele. By love.
Stop giving us reasons to cheer you on, man. Seriously. Stop.
“The most important thing (as a rookie) was getting familiar with the multiplicity of defenses,” Meinerz said. “You know, when Wisconsin-River Falls comes to town, they don’t do that.
“So that was the most important thing, especially playing in the middle, (when) I have to find out very quickly and tell everyone where to go. So that was the toughest hurdle last year. And so having this knowledge of going to so many different teams with so many different fronts (in 2021), even in our own (division) twice a year, I was able to become confident to identify (appearances) and know my work.
One of the sexiest battles of the Broncos’ 2022 training camp, once the traffic jam timeshare is settled, is arguably the sexiest position on the planet. Meinerz and Netane Muti parted ways Thursday with the No. 1 offense at right guard.
“Right now we’re just turning people around,” coach Nathaniel Hackett said. “The offensive line just needs to work with as many different combinations as possible because, like in the past, for me, you never know what’s going to happen. And you want to make sure everyone is comfortable working together.
So far so good: Meinerz is moving faster while the game is moving slower. He doesn’t expect to take any photos in the center once the curtain goes up in Week 1, but the road is long and winding. And like the man said, you never know.
“I just feel a lot more comfortable and a lot more in my zone (at camp),” Meinerz said.
“I’m starting to settle in as a guard right now and have fun with this guarding competition that we have. And (I’m) just used to having fans here and yeah, and not being as intimidated by it, like last year.
“I mean, I know the area better. I know where to go bowling for four or five minutes away from home, play a few games…”
Hey, the people in the league are the best. Once you get to know them. The No. 77 even landed a score of 279 recently. Gutter balls, like bowel, are old news, baby. Someone else’s problem.
“I’ll just walk in and the guys say, ‘Hey, what’s up? ‘” Meinerz confessed, laughing again. “I’m a regular now.”