Melvin Gordon's first season in the Mile High City wasn't without its fair share of lows.
From playing amid a global pandemic to figuring out how to co-exist alongside hometown kid Phillip Lindsay to an in-season DUI charge (which has since been dismissed), the Broncos running back endured quite a bit while trying to adjust to his new home.
In a recent interview with Denver 7's Troy Renck, Gordon detailed the challenges he faced during the 2020 campaign.
"It was probably one of my most difficult seasons. I am not going to lie," he told Renck. "Just 'cause a lot of fans and a lot of people weren't too happy with me coming in and Phil wanting to get paid and everything like that. I was like, 'Look man, I had no parts in that.' I wanted to be here, and they wanted me to be here. It was a mutual thing and it kind of just happened. It was tough, man, because I felt like a lot of people didn't accept me.
"It was kind of like, I am from Wisconsin, and if I had gotten drafted to the Pack. I understand how people feel because it would be the same way for me if I was in Green Bay. There was never any hard feelings, but shoot, at least give me a shot. And it sucked because the [fans] weren't there [in the stands], so they were not there in person to appreciate what I do. And with the COVID stuff and not really being able to see Denver as a whole and spend that extra time with the teammates outside of the facility, it just made things a lot tougher. So it was that on top of that on top of that on top of that on top of that. So mentally, it was like, I definitely was challenged."
As Gordon alluded to, the belief entering last season was Lindsay would go for a hat-trick of solid rushing seasons and maintain his starting spot long term. But, with injuries hampering the local star all year, Gordon's addition proved to be a necessity rather than a hindrance to Lindsay's growth.
Gordon eventually assumed the bulk of the workload and finished with 986 rush yards, the most he's had since the 2017 campaign -- his last as a clear-cut lead back. His 4.6 yards per carry was the second-best mark of his career.
No longer having to share the rock with Lindsay, who departed for the Texans in March, may make for a smoother encore from Gordon. It'll also give the two-time Pro Bowler a chance to obtain what he's strived for throughout his six-year career: proper respect.
"Yeah, I just want to come out and be the best back. I would love the rushing title, you know what I mean? I want to be the best back," Gordon said. "I feel like I am so overlooked. Whatever that case may be because we didn't get a lot of TV time with the Chargers and last year with splitting the ball and the fans not being there because of COVID, I don't know. But I get overlooked a lot and I am kind of sick of it."
Of the many things Gordon cited as obstacles, Denver's 5-11 finish (and fifth-straight failed postseason bid) should be included on his list. Thanks to its magical healing powers, winning would go a long way toward quickly endearing Gordon to Broncos fans and pundits alike in 2021.
While quarterback questions linger, Denver spent much of the offseason fortifying a defense that was already above average. With Gordon determined to help the offense hold up its end of the bargain, one the NFL's most storied franchises might be primed for a playoff push.
"It's not like being the '1' is something I am not used to. I was that pretty much my whole time with the Chargers. It's not like I am going into unfamiliar territory," he said. "Now, I know the guys. I have built a relationship with guys. I feel more comfortable speaking my mind on certain things. There were certain moments where I spoke up and said some things to try to help motivate and get the team moving in the right direction. But there's always the feeling as the new guy you have to earn your keep before you tell a whole bunch of guys how you feel, you know?
"We bled and sweat together. We definitely had a down year, and we fought together at our worst. I definitely want to be one of the leaders to step up this year at our best because that's definitely what we are about to bring this year. ... I really feel like we can be special."