Broncos loyalty of 'Walking Dead' star dates back to Elway mullet

How the NFL is like a zombie apocalypse (3:41)

Actor Ross Marquand, who plays Aaron on "The Walking Dead" talks about how survival in the NFL mirrors the apocalyptic world from the television show, while several NFL superstars take on a zombie apocalypse of their own. (3:41)

NOVI, Mich. -- He grew up hearing about the Orange Crush and lived in the world of John Elway and Super Bowls lost. He spent his childhood watching the Denver Broncos, and even now, in Hollywood, Ross Marquand can hardly stand to miss a game.

The Broncos have become a conversation point for him on set of “The Walking Dead,” which has its season premiere on Sunday. Marquand has played Aaron since 2015. It’s the biggest role thus far in his career, which includes playing Paul Newman in an episode of “Mad Men.”

But as he explained at the Motor City Comic Con earlier this year, Marquand’s Broncos fandom has brought him some allegiances on set -- and some memories of having an Elway-esque mullet as a kid. And why the crossover fandom between the NFL and Walking Dead might resonate.

That has to be a huge thing for you guys, all being football fans. Does it resonate?

Ross Marquand: It’s a great give-and-take between those two fandoms. NFL fans, I would argue, are some of the most loyal fans in the world. Case in point, Broncos have went to the Super Bowl eight times now, I think, and we’ve lost more than we’ve won. When you’ve had your heart broken over and over again and I think it’s like on our show, like you have all these fans that love certain characters and love certain storylines over and over again; your favorite character is getting killed off but you stick with the show because you know that the show overall is one that you care about. You care about tuning in. Like you want to see the Broncos succeed. I want to see the Alexandrians succeed. I want to see Rick and the group succeed. It’s very similar.

How did you become a Broncos fan?

RM: I’m from Denver and it was in my blood. My mom’s a huge football fan so she just instilled that in all of us.

What’s your favorite Broncos memory?

RM: Even though it was a terrible result with the Super Bowl, I think the Orange Crush, that defense was just incredible. We had one of the most amazing teams assembled in the '80s, really for several years in a row. It was great to see John Elway finally get his big win, wins, rather, versus the Packers and then the Falcons, just seeing him put in that much hard work and finally succeed, it was great.

Was Elway your favorite player? Why Elway?

RM: Yeah. I think he’s arguably one of best quarterbacks of all-time. I mean, Tom Brady’s a great quarterback but he also had and has the best weapons in NFL history. John Elway was making plays happen when he didn’t have the players who could make it happen for him, you know.

Did you dress up as [Elway] for Halloween or something?

RM: No, but I grew a little mullet like him. Of course.

What’s it like going to games now?

RM: Oh yeah, it’s amazing. I love going to Broncos games. I love watching them play anytime.

Q: What was the first memory of going to Mile High?

RM: I was a little kid and I saw the Barrelman. He was our local mascot. He was so much fun. He was great. I was 11 or 12. We couldn’t really afford to go a bunch of times.