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As we anxiously await the kickoff to Super Bowl 50, I wanted to reflect on this crazy year for the Denver Broncos – a year unlike any I can remember – and share a few highlights of the season that was…
Broncos Bits 10 – 1
Hard to know what is going to happen in Super Bowl 50, but I do know this, this football team has provided far, far more excitement and fun than pain over my over 40 year love obsession with the team. Here are some of my favorite memories of the Denver Broncos...
10 – The Broncos Beat the Patriots to Go to 6 – 0 in 2009 – Though it’s difficult to remember anything particularly positive from John McDaniels’ 18 month tour as head coach of the Denver Broncos, I fondly recall McDaniels beating his old team (the New England Patriots) to move his new team to 6-0 in the kid’s first season as coach of the Broncos. If we can forget the team would go 2-8 the rest of the way and miss the playoffs, this is a better memory… For one afternoon when the Broncos wore their yellow and brown throwback uniforms and the Kid McDaniels gestured to and pumped up the crowd at Invesco Field at Mile High, it felt like McDaniels and the Broncos had arrived as a top echelon team ahead of schedule.
9 – Manning’s 509th Touchdown Pass – Sous Chef and I were at the game when Peyton Manning plus Demaryius Thomas equaled an amazing (unreachable?) record. What an incredible offense machine the Broncos were during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. They were a pleasure to watch. “Hurry! Hurry!” indeed.
8 – Randy Gradishar Steps Away – At the peak of his career, Number 53 stepped away from the game. Perhaps he knew something then that we all know now – that football is incredibly hard on the body – and he wanted to enjoy the rest of his life and more power to him. It shows that character and incredible play sometimes go hand-in-hand. Gradishar is one of the best players and best men the Broncos ever put on the field.
7 – Elway. All Things Elway. – There is not much more to say than that. Even in his “down” years in the middle quarter of his career, Elway was always magical. He remains the face of the franchise, continuing to will the Broncos to Super Bowl contention year-after-year. It would be hard to imagine any other player as the poster boy for the Denver Broncos.
6 – Pat Bowlen Buys the Broncos – I don’t think anyone knew in 1984 when Pat Bowlen purchased the Denver Broncos how important that moment was for the history of the franchise and the destiny of the NFL. Bowlen built a perpetual winner in Denver, helped the NFL continue its ascent as the most popular sport in the country and showed other teams how to be an almost perfect owner – by (primarily) hiring talented and smart football people, giving them free reign to run the club and the financial support with which to do it well. Bowlen will absolutely be missed. How special would it be if the team he constructed could win one more for Pat?
5 – “The Revenge Tour” – Three of my top five Bronco moments deal with the 1997 team, beginning with this one. Denver had famously lost to Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1996 playoffs and had dropped games to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers during the regular season leading up to the 1997 playoffs. After annihilating the Jags in the opening round of the playoffs, they outlasted the Chiefs and the Steelers in successive road games before Super Bowl XXXII.
4 – The Helicopter – What really needs to be said about this?
3 – Winning Super Bowl XXXIII – This win was something of a foregone conclusion… Denver was incredibly good this in 1998 and were heavy favorites to beat the surprising Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. And they did. Handily. John Elway was able to retire as a Super Bowl MVP and Super Bowl Champion. Could history repeat itself for Super Bowl 50?
2 – Winning Super Bowl XXXII – There’s nothing like the first. No matter how many great wins I get to see the Broncos achieve, I will likely never feel the way I did following Super Bowl XXXII. What a feeling!
1 – The Denver Broncos. United in Orange. – No matter what happens during Super Bowl 50, the long off season begins Monday morning and fans like me will step away, ever so slightly, from sports radio and following the team on the internet and will bemoan how much of the calendar doesn’t feature NFL football. Then we will step right back in.
The Denver Broncos have been one of my driving passions for as long as I can remember and, though I tell myself that I need to put away childish things as I get older, anyone who knows me knows that’s not likely to ever happen…
… especially in the case of my love for the Denver Broncos!