History of the Denver Broncos

History of the Denver Broncos

This article presents the history of the Denver Broncos American Football Club. Charter members of the American Football League (AFL), the Broncos have played in the city of Denver, Colorado throughout their nearly 50 year history. The Broncos did not win any championships as members of the AFL. Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, the Broncos have won ten division titles, and played in six Super Bowls, following the 1977, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1997 and 1998 seasons. They won Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII. Their most famous player is former quarterback John Elway, starting quarterback in five Super Bowls and holder of many NFL records. The Broncos currently play in the National Football League’s American Football Conference West Division (AFC West). Their current leadership includes owner Pat Bowlen, head coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Jay Cutler.


The Denver Broncos were founded on August 14, 1959, when minor league baseball owner Bob Howsam was awarded an American Football League charter franchise. [http://www.profootballhof.com/history/team.jsp?franchise_id=10] Howsam had originally wanted to bring an expansion NFL franchise to Denver, but were denied a team by NFL owners under the leadership of Chicago Bears owner George Halas. The snub led Howsam and four others to start up a rival to the NFL which would begin play the following year. [http://denver.rockymountainnews.com/milehigh/1223mile0.shtml] [http://www.kcchiefs.com/history/] The Broncos received their nickname through a fan contest held in 1960. [http://www.profootballhof.com/history/nicknames.jsp]

The AFL Years

. [http://www.blackathlete.net/artman/publish/article_01018.shtml]

The Filchock Era

The Broncos began play in 1960, the AFL’s inaugural season, at Bears Stadium (later Mile High Stadium), longtime home of the Denver Bears. Their head coach was Frank Filchock, who choose Frank Tripucka as the Broncos first starting quarterback. They Broncos won their first game, also the first AFL game, 13-10 over the Boston Patriots. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/196009090nwe.htm] However, the Broncos would end the season with a 4-9-1 record. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/1960.htm] After the season, Howsam, looking to sell his holdings in the Broncos, nearly made a deal with a San Antonio syndicate, but eventually a group led by Calvin Kunz purchases Howsam’s shares. At this point, Gerald Phipps became the Broncos largest stockholder. [Barely Audible, 11.]

The Faulkner Era

Following a 3-11 campaign in 1961, the Broncos replaced Filchock with Jack Faulkner, who ritualistically burned the Broncos vertically-striped socks prior to the new season. [Barely Audible, 10,12.] Faulkner led them to a 7-7 record in 1962, their best record in the AFL. This .500 season was not, however, a prelude to success, as the Broncos would lose at least 10 games each of the next five years, during which they were led by four different coaches and over half a dozen starting quarterbacks. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/]

The Speedie/Malavasi Era

Mac Speedie replaced Faulkner five games into the 1964 season, breaking a eleven game losing streak by beating Kansas City 33-37. The Broncos would only win one more game in 1964, ending the season with a 2-11-1 record. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/1964.htm] Following a 4-10 1965 campaign, [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/1965.htm] Speedie resigned two games into the 1966 season, during the first of which, a 45-7 loss to Houston, the Broncos failed to record a first down [Barely Audible, 20] and finished with -7 yards passing and only 26 yards of total offense. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/196609030oti.htm] Speedie was replaced by interim head coach Ray Malavasi, under whom the Broncos finished the season 4-10. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/1966.htm]

Denver came close to losing the Broncos in 1965, when a group of minority parters got together intending to sell the team to interests based in Atlanta, Georgia. However, a different pair of owners, Alan and Gerald Phipps, bought the team and Bears Stadium and kept the team in Denver. In the aftermath of the near loss of the team, season ticket sales nearly tripled the following year. [http://www.nflteamhistory.com/nfl_teams/denver_broncos/team_history.html]

The Saban Era begins

In 1967, the Broncos hired Lou Saban, coach of the two-time defending AFL champion Buffalo Bills as head coach. Saban's first order of business was to generate interest in the team to keep them in Denver. Playing at antiquated Bears Stadium, the Broncos needed to expand the stadium to 50,000 in order to meet the NFL's requirements for the merger. This required raising funds from businesses and the people of Denver. If unable to raise the necessary funds, the team was threatening to move to Chicago or Birmingham. [Barely Audible, 21-23.]

Saban decided to use his #1 pick for an impact player. With the 6th pick, he chose Syracuse All-America Floyd Little, the first 3-time All-America since Doak Walker. With the Broncos' past #1 picks, such as Dick Butkus and Merlin Olsen fleeing to the NFL, Little became the first #1 pick to sign with the team. His signing created a landslide of enthusiasm for the Broncos. [Barely Audible, 102-103.] Little and other Broncos went door-to-door to elicit funds for the stadium. He even rode buses to Wyoming, Nebraska and other states nearby to bring in money. In doing so, Little became known as "The Franchise" for his tireless efforts to keep the team in Denver.

Little proved to be every ounce as valuable on the field for the Broncos as well. Saban kept 26 rookies his first season including Little, along with numerous 2nd and 3rd year players. Little was the only bright spot in a dismal 3-11 season. He led the AFL and NFL in punt returns with a blistering 17-yard average. He also led the league in combined yards (rushing, receiving and returns). [Stadium Stories, 21-27.] In 1968, he led the league again in combined yards and became the only player in either league to return a punt for a touchdown in both seasons.

In 1969, Little was clearly the best back in both the AFL or NFL. After just six games, he was more than 300 yards ahead of all running backs, piling up 700 yards when he tore up his knee and missed most of the season. He was named All-AFL for his efforts. In 1970, despite playing with a broken bone in his back and having a record 5-different starting quarterbacks, Little led the AFC in rushing. [Stadium Stories, 21-27.]

In 1971, Little did it again -- leading not only the AFC in rushing again -- but the entire NFL in rushing with 1,133 yards. However, even with Little's superb prowess and the likes of defensive end Rich Jackson creating havoc on defense, Saban could not bring the Broncos success. He finished in last place in the division every year of Saban’s five-year tenure. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/coaches/SabaLo0.htm]

The 1970s

The Saban/Smith/Ralston era

In 1970, the Broncos began a home sell-out streak (not including games using replacement players) which has lasted to the present. [http://www.nflteamhistory.com/nfl_teams/denver_broncos/team_history.html] In 1973, John Ralston coached the now-mature Broncos to a 7-5-2 record, the franchise's first winning season, [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/1973.htm] including a dramatic tie with Oakland in Denver's first-ever "Monday Night Football" appearance that is still remembered as a pivotal game in Broncos history. [http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nfl/denver/broncos.html] During this game, announcer Don Meredith famously told the audience: "Welcome to the Mile High City and I really am!" [http://www.knoxstudio.com/shns/story.cfm?pk=FBN-MNF-TV-04-25-05&cat=FP]

Broncomania and the First Super Bowl Appearance

Rookie coach Red Miller, along with the Orange Crush Defense (a nickname originating in the early '70's) and aging quarterback Craig Morton, promptly took Denver to its first playoff appearance – and, ultimately first Super Bowl – in 1978, where they were defeated by the Dallas Cowboys, 27-10. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/1977.htm] Despite this disappointing loss to Dallas, their amazing season catapulted the franchise out of the basement and they since have enjoyed thirty years of consistency that few other teams has matched. The successful season also brought the phenomena of “Broncomania” to a fever pitch, with the team the talk of the town, selling 65,000 Super Bowl t-shirts in 48 hours. [http://www.sportingnews.com/archives/superbowl/12.html] Earlier that year, superfan Tim McKernan, better known simply as The Barrel Man, began wearing only an orange-colored aluminum barrel, boots and a cowboy hat to games, a ritual he would repeat for thirty years. [http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=83627]

The Elway Years


) unless he was traded to one of a selected list of other teams, which included Denver. [http://www.sportingnews.com/archives/elway/timeline.html] During the 23 seasons prior to Elway's arrival, Denver used over 24 different starting quarterbacks. [http://www.football.com/nfl/denverbroncos/index.html]

Under Elway and head coach Dan Reeves (hired in 1981) [http://affiliates.westwoodone.com/sports/dan-reeves-bio.asp] , the Broncos would become one of the most dominant AFC teams of the 1980s, winning 3 AFC championships (1986, 1987, 1989), with Elway winning the NFL MVP Award in 1987. [http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.jsp?player_id=64] The first two Super Bowl appearances were preceded by storied victories over the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Championship game, each acquiring its own nickname: The Drive in 1987, in which the Broncos drove 98 yards to score a late game-winning touchdown, [http://www.profootballhof.com/history/decades/1980s/the_drive.jsp] and The Fumble in 1988, in which Brown Earnest Byner lost the ball, and a game-tying touchdown, late in the game. However, the Broncos lost all three Super Bowls during this period, all by at least three touchdowns. [http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/history] In fact, Super Bowl XXIV against the San Francisco 49ers was the most lopsided Super Bowl in NFL history. [http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/history]

During the 1980s, the Broncos played in at least two storied Monday Night Football games. On October 15, 1984, the Broncos played a famed game against the Green Bay Packers during a major blizzard. [http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/9492980/] The following season, on November 11, 1985, the Broncos won a Monday Night Football home game when a fan threw a snowball onto the field during San Francisco 49ers kicker Ray Wersching field goal attempt. 49er holder Matt Cavanaugh picked up the ball and threw it incomplete, losing three decisive points in a 17-16 loss. [http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/9492980/] In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Elway’s strong receiving corp of Mark Jackson, Vance Johnson and Ricky Nattiel was nicknamed the “Three Amigos.” [ http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/news/2002/12/05/seahawks_receivers_ap/] Early in the 1980s, the Broncos were the first NFL team to play the song "Rock and Roll, Pt. 2" (AKA "the Hey Song"), during games. [ [http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1004585/2/index.htm "The Vibes Of Victory"] , "Sports Illustrated", 30 November 1992]


Reeves was fired following an 8-8 1992 campaign and replaced with Wade Phillips, a move often attributed to Reeves stormy relationship with Elway [http://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs98/news/1999/990120/01056576.html] [http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/082497/x10falco.html] [http://www.enquirer.com/editions/1999/01/19/spt_broncos_arent.html] Following campaigns of 9-7 and 7-9 in 1993 and 1994 respectively, Phillips was fired and the Broncos named former Broncos quarterbacks coach Mike Shanahan Head Coach. [http://www.denverbroncos.com/page.php?id=357&contentID=415]

In 1995, the Broncos debuted a new Zone blocking scheme [http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/sports/packers/index.php?ntid=253732&ntpid=192] under Mike Shanahan and rookie running back Terrell Davis, [http://www.nfl.com/players/terrelldavis/profile?id=DAV766905] who would quickly emerge as an All-Pro [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/D/DaviTe00.htm] running back. [http://www.nfl.com/players/terrelldavis/profile?id=DAV766905] The Broncos established a tradition in 1996 where the offensive linemen do not talk with the media as a form of bonding. [ [http://archive.southcoasttoday.com/daily/01-98/01-15-98/d03sp168.htm World will hear from Denver line] ] This was evident during the player introductions for the starting lineup on nationally-televised prime time games as the linemen would not introduce themselves. How they were introduced has varied over the years as sometimes, another offensive player introduces them and during other times, the announcers introduce the offensive linemen. Due to a rule change within the NFL in 2007, this tradition came to an end. For the 2007 season each player is required to make themselves available for media interviews. On a Sunday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the linemen introduced themselves.

In 1996, Shanahan’s second season, the Broncos went 13-3 and appeared on their way to another Super Bowl appearance. However, they were defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars in a stunning 30-27 wild-card round loss. [ http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/jax/1996.htm] In 1997, the Broncos went 12-4, securing a wild card spot in the playoffs. Following playoff wins over the Jaguars, Chiefs and Steelers, the Broncos faced the heavily-favored Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. Davis would lead the Broncos to their first Super Bowl victory, 31-24. Although Elway completed only 12 of his 22 passing attempts, throwing one interception and no touchdowns, he executed what was perhaps the game’s best-known play, known as The Dive, when he boldly ran for a crucial first down while surviving strong hits from two safeties as he jumped through the air like a propeller. [http://archive.profootballweekly.com/content/archives/features_1998/elway_122198.asp] [ http://www2.gazette.com/broncos/display97.php?id=1332468 ] Terrell Davis was able to overcome a severe migraine headache that caused him blurred vision [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/news/1998/08/23/davis_book/] and rush for 157 yards and three touchdowns [http://www.superbowl.com/history/boxscores/game/sbxxxii Super Bowl XXXII Box Score] to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.

The following season, the Broncos began the year by winning their first thirteen games. They would finish the season 14-2. [ http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/1998.htm] Adding levity to an intense quest for a perfect season, one week normally gregarious tight end Shannon Sharpe refused to speak to the media, leading Shanahan to add to the injury report: "TE Shannon Sharpe (laryngitis) probable." [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/features/1998/weekly/981214/nfl1214/#5] Terrell Davis became the fourth back to rush for 2000 yards (he would finish with 2008) [http://www.profootballhof.com/history/decades/1990s/terrell_davis.jsp] during the regular season and won the NFL MVP award. The Broncos defeated the Atlanta Falcons, led by former coach Dan Reeves, 34-19 to win Super Bowl XXXIII and defend their title. Elway, playing in his final NFL game, won the Super Bowl MVP award.

The Post-Elway Years

Since Elway's retirement following the 1998 season, Denver has had only two losing seasons (1999, 2007) and has made the playoffs as a wild card three times (in 2000, 2003 and 2004), and as a division champion once (2005). However, they have won only one playoff game since Elway's retirement.

The Griese Era

Brian Griese, son of former Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese, took over as quarterback upon Elway’s retirement. Griese led the team from 1999 to 2002, compiling a record of 34-30 and a loss in the team’s only playoff game under Griese. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/]

The Plummer Era

Former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer replaced Griese as quarterback prior to the 2003 season. He would lead the team to a 49-26 record and a 1-3 playoff record from 2003 to 2006. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/P/PlumJa00.htm] Prior to the 2005 season, the Broncos were plagued by early season success followed by late season flops. In both 2003 and 2004 they started the season 5-1 and ended 10-6. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/2003.htm] [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/2004.htm] In 2005, the Broncos would have a much-improved season, going 13-3 and earning a bye week in the playoffs with the #2 seed in the AFC. They would finally win a playoff game without Elway, defeating the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots 27-13, ending the Patriots' 10 game playoff winning streak. The following weekend, the hosting Broncos were defeated at home by the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship by a score of 34-17. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/2005.htm]

The Cutler Era

performance led to his being bench in favor of Cutler 12 games into the season. [http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2676372] Cutler has led the team ever since, compiling a 9-12 record as of the conclusion of the 2007 season. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/]

Recent History

Team Records

* The Broncos all-time regular season record (as of the conclusion of the 2007-2008 season) including AFL games is 349-317-10. [http://www.nfl.com/history/teams/Broncos] Update after|2008|12|28
* Their all-time playoff record is 17-15. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/] Update after|2009|2|1
* John Elway is the Broncos all-time leading passer, with 300 touchdowns and 51,475 yards passing. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/career-passing.htm]
* Terrell Davis is the Broncos all-time leading rusher, with 60 touchdowns and 7607 yards rushing. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/career-rushing.htm]
* Rod Smith is the Broncos all-time leading receiver, with 68 touchdowns, 11,389 yards receiving. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/career-receiving.htm]
* Jason Elam is the Broncos all-time leading scorer, with 1786 points. [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/career-scoring.htm]


External links

* [http://www.profootballhof.com/history/team.jsp?franchise_id=10 Broncos History on NFL Hall of Fame Site]
* [http://endzone.pscoggin.com/history.htm Broncos Uniform History]
* [http://www.conigliofamily.com/Broncos.htm Broncos AFL History]
* [http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nfl/denver/broncos.html Sportsecyclopedia Broncos 1960-present]
* [http://www.nfl.com/history/teams/Broncos All-time regular season record]
* [http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/teams/history/DEN CBS Broncos history page]
* [http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/den/ Pro Football Reference page]


* Larry Gordan, “Barely Audible: A History of the Denver Broncos” (Graphic Impressions, 1975) ISBN: 978-0914628019
* Woodrow “Woody” Paige, “Orange Madness: The Incredible Odyssey of the Denver Broncos” (Crowell, 1978) ISBN: 978-0690017762
* Terry Frei, “'77: Denver, The Broncos, and a Coming of Age” (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2007) ISBN: 978-1589792135
* Larry Zimmer, “Stadium Stories: Colorful Tales of the Blue and Orange“ (The Globe Pequot Press, 2004) ISBN: 978-076227667

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Denver Broncos — Current season Established 1960 Play in Sports Authority Field at Mile High Denver, Colorado Headquartered in the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Centre Dove Valley, Colorado …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Pittsburgh Steelers — The Pittsburgh Steelers are a National Football League franchise.The early years: Decades of futilityThe Pittsburgh NFL team, usually known as the Pirates in reference to their Forbes Field baseball club landlords, first took to the field on… …   Wikipedia

  • History of the New England Patriots — The History of the New England Patriots began when Boston business executive Billy Sullivan was awarded the eighth and final franchise of the developing American Football League (AFL) on November 16 1959. The following winter, locals were allowed …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Atlanta Falcons — The history of the Atlanta Falcons dates back when the Falcons joined the National Football League (NFL) as a 1966 expansion team. 1965 ndash;1979On June 30, 1965, the Atlanta Falcons were born. The NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle granted ownership …   Wikipedia

  • History of the New York Giants (1979–1993) — The history of the New York Giants from 1979 to 1993, covers one of the most successful periods in the American football franchise s history. Currently members of the NFL s National Football Conference, the Giants struggled after reaching the NFL …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Indianapolis Colts — The Indianapolis Colts are a professional football team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are 2006 champions of the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football League (NFL).The team began play in 1953 as the Baltimore Colts. A …   Wikipedia

  • History of the New York Jets — The history of the New York Jets American football Club began as the New York Titans, which was a founding member of the American Football League in 1960. The team struggled through its early seasons, before being led by quarterback Joe Namath to …   Wikipedia

  • History of the New York Giants — The history of the New York Giants, an American football team which currently plays in the NFL s National Football Conference, comprises more than 80 seasons. The Giants were founded in 1925 by original owner Tim Mara in the then five year old… …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Seattle Seahawks — The Seattle Seahawks are a professional American football team organized in 1976 and based in Seattle, Washington, USA. This article details the history of the Seattle Seahawks American Football Club. Overview On June 15 1972 Seattle Professional …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Kansas City Chiefs — The following is a detailed history of the Kansas City Chiefs, a professional American football franchise that began play in 1960 as the Dallas Texans. The team was a charter member of the American Football League (AFL), and now is currently part …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”