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Published on 12/05/2009 at Sat Dec 05 23:03.
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Barrel Man (Tim McKernan) argues with an Oakland Raider fan, Nov 5, 2001

Barrel Man (Tim McKernan) argues with an Oakland Raider fan in the Black Hole, Nov 5, 2001

The franchise has lost its most recognizable fan; our beloved barrel man has passed away at age 69.  Tim McKernan was better known as the Broncos super fan for all of those years, attending since 1967 and originally donning his first barrel in 1977 painted to look like an orange crush bottle. The costume idea came from a brotherly bet.

“He wanted to see me on TV out in California,” McKernan said. “I had painted a barrel to make a drum out of it to look like an Orange Crush can, told him about it and he bet me 10 bucks that I didn’t have the guts to wear nothing but the barrel to a ball game.”

Tim became famous for attending all of those games wearing little other than a Broncos barrel and cowboy hat.  He became the team’s iconic unofficial mascot.  Sorry huddles, leprechaun, thunder, miles and pom pom yetis.  Barrel Man is and always will be our #1 team mascot.  You could even say he was the first Bronco into the Pro Football Hall of Fame technically.  Elected as one of the league’s super-fans along with The Hogettes, Fireman Ed, and Crazy Ray to name a few of the group. 

He was always there in the south stands.  He was there to root on the Broncos in their first super bowl victory in San Diego.  Due lack of space and not being able to afford the insurance, he would later attempt to auction and would ultimately sell his famous SB XXXII barrel.  Containing 49 of the team’s signatures, it fetched 30k, Tim gave a portion of the proceeds to a Gunnison (his hometown) women’s shelter.

“The moment he puts that barrel on he has a swagger,” she said. “He’s very shy. That’s what a lot of people don’t realize about Tim.”

-Becky McKernan (Tim’s wife)

“The more I can get the fans into it,” he said. “The better the team plays.”

-The Barrel Man himself

Tim had to retire from the barrel after the closing of the 2007 season due to the onset of health problems beginning in 2003.  He was honored by the organization in a halftime ceremony that brought him to tears.  Most anyone who met Tim would say he had a heart of gold.  His grandchildren would grow up remembering him in a barrel.  You get the sense that’s what he always wanted to be remembered as…  Our beloved #1 Denver Broncos fan, our barrel man.

I had the pleasure of meeting The Barrel man as a young fan attending a cold game at the old Mile High Stadium.  There he was post-game in the parking lot outside of the south stands next to his RV.  He had a stack of self portrait autographing them for fans, myself included.  I still have that little picture somewhere.  You really couldn’t meet a nicer man that Tim.  Rest in peace Mr. Barrel Man.  Our thoughts go out to the McKernan family this evening.

  • djfreezn

    God speed, Barrel Man. I had my picture taken with you at my very first Broncos game. My thoughts and prayers go out to our family.

  • becky L lueck,apodaca, edwards

    He was a icon at the games I saw him at my high school gateway and he is is my year book I,m very sorry to see him pass.

  • Jean Jensen, Pueblo

    I had my picture taken next to you Tim, and was too embarrassed to see what you were wearing, if anything, under it. When remembering our fans in the Football Hall of Fame, please also remember the Hat Man (Jay Hocking) he loved you dearly also.

  • flbronc

    when we used to live out there and could go to games all the time, the first thing we'd do was look for the barrel man! its sad to hear he's gone, but he made millions smile and cheer, so hopefully he's at peace and smiling back at us somewhere.

  • Fan From Spain

    Barrel man to the Ring of Fame or something simillar @ Milehigh

  • Bryan Adams

    Sad to hear, I agree that some honor like the ring of fame is in order for him.

  • Ann

    I worked with Tim on the midnight shift at United Airlines. He was sweet, shy, wonderful to work with, and very, very funny. He was kind enough to autograph a Barrel Man picture for me when I moved to FL. He will be missed and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  • BillGreene1963

    In the South, we'd see you Stand; an orange hat, a portly Fan.
    We, “fairweathered”, sometimes booed. But there YOU were, hat, boots, cold – nude;
    A mighty leader, you did CHEER – Inside your empty keg of beer.
    Now God needs you for His Big Game; A White Horse weeps “It's not the same!”
    … So to the Man, who donned the Barrel; We sadly Salute a Mile High 'Fare Well'.

  • therealch3

    God speed Barrel Man. You were the embodiment of the passion and fire that Broncos fans are renowned for.

    Oh you have a guy in a fireman's helmet? That's cute. We have a guy that shows up to every game no matter the weather wearing nothing but an aluminum barrel!

    Beat the Chiefs in honor of the Barrel Man!

  • anthony33

    RIP Barrel Man.

    kerry has a great idea from a previous topic.

    Take a permanent seat in the south stands and put his barrel on it. Bronze it and keep it there forever. What better tribute could you ask for.

  • Alex B

    Broncos need to extend their support and offer to allow the funeral to be partly conducted from the stadium. Obviously not buried there but i think he has done a great amount of work in endorsing Broncos-fandom.

  • broncoinva9986

    God bless him and his family….

  • Josh Temple

    I'm actually in favor of what they came up with over at MHR. Trying to start up a donation for a barrel man bronze statue to stand on the concourse next to the south stands forever cheering out to the field. Somewhere visible to most of the stadium.

  • Gary_in_SD

    Met you at the NFL Experience here in SD right before SB32. Goodbye to a true gentleman and the kind of fan that will inspire others for years to come.

  • Broncgirlfan

    If you want to honor Barrel-Man, become a fan of the facebook site:

  • Broncgirlfan

    Become a fan of the following site.

  • Gary_in_SD

    Met you at the NFL Experience here in SD right before SB32. Goodbye to a true gentleman and the kind of fan that will inspire others for years to come.

  • Broncgirlfan

    If you want to honor Barrel-Man, become a fan of the facebook site:

  • Broncgirlfan

    Become a fan of the following site.