Throughout the history of the Denver Broncos franchise there is one season that stands out as a proclamation to the rest of the NFL (and the country) that the “Mile High City” wasn’t merely a “sleepy little Cow town” in the middle of the U.S. Sure, Buffalo Bill was buried in a suburb, but that didn’t mean it was the Wild West. No, the nation learned that the road to the Super Bowl went through Denver in 1977 and it wasn’t a dusty cattle trail. The “Orange Crush” Defense had much to do with this, but on Offense, it was the “M&M Connection,” which consisted of Quarterback Craig Morton and today’s feature, Wide Receiver Haven Moses.
Haven grew up in Los Angeles, California in the 1950’s. He rode the city bus through four suburbs during his first two years in high school because is Mother wanted him to go to Catholic school. When he got a Driver’s License, Moses car pooled from then on.
After high school, Floyd “Scrappy” Ray, the football coach at nearby Harbor City College asked Haven if he would play for him. Moses was a college All-American as a junior. The next season he played both ways, at Cornerback and Receiver. Haven had three Touchdowns against San Diego City College. San Diego State coach Don Coryell was there, scouting another player, but decided Moses was the prospect he wanted and started recruited him hard.
Haven had all but committed to play for the (USC) Trojans, when a former Harbor teammate, Don Horn, talked him into at visiting San Diego State. As a favor to Horn, he agreed to visit San Diego State. Moses ended up missing his flight and went home. The following day, he arrived on campus and met the coaching staff: Don Coryell, Sid Hall, Joe Gibbs, Rod Dowhower, a guy named John Madden and toured the campus. San Diego State felt comfortable and figured to have a better chance at playing time as an Aztec than at USC.
“They were down-home guys at San Diego State,” he says. “SC was very pretentious. I got back and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then Coryell and Madden came to my house in Compton, and that was the thing that impressed me the most. They told my mom two things: they’d make sure I got an education and that I’d have fun. No other coach talked about that and no other coach came to my house.”
The Aztecs moved into the new San Diego Stadium in 1967, drew well, and won the College Division National Championship two years in a row. Haven was the Aztecs’ offensive captain and MVP, catching 55 passes for 968 yards that year. In two seasons as the prototype receiver for Aztecs coach Don Coryell, Moses caught 117 passes for 2,169 yards and 17 Touchdowns. He played in the 1967 East-West Shrine Game, the College All-Star Game and the Senior Bowl.
Selected by the Buffalo Bills with the 9th overall pick in the 1968 NFL Draft, Haven adjusted to the chilly upstate New York climate with 42 catches for 633 yards and 2 Touchdowns as a rookie. He made the first of two Pro Bowls in 1969 with 39 receptions, 752 yards and 5 TD’s, averaging 19.3 yards per catch. After 7-time Pro Bowler & 2-time First-Team All-Pro Quarterback Jack Kemp got hurt and retired in 1969, the Bills meandered through average Passers Dennis Shaw, James Harris and Leo Hart, but Moses still had decent numbers.
“I couldn’t throw the ball to myself,” he says. “That’s when I learned that every ball thrown to me, I better catch it.”
When Lou Saban returned to the Bills for a second stint as their head coach prior to the 1972 season, Moses and Saban clashed. When the Bills wouldn’t let him play in Week six, he knew his time in Buffalo was about to end. He became a Bronco the next day.
John Ralston acquired Haven for Wide Receiver Dwight Harrison, who had argued with Lyle Alzado to the point of bringing a gun into the dressing room. It ended up being the simplest solution to trade with Buffalo.
Haven loved Denver right off the bat.
“I got here and I couldn’t believe how blue the skies were. It had snowed two days before, but the skies were so clear and it was crisp. I never had seen clouds so white, like you could touch them.”
He started 6 of the 8 remaining games for the Broncos in 1972, catching 15 passes for 224 yards and five Touchdowns playing with Quarterback Charley Johnson.
1973 saw the first winning season for the Denver Broncos franchise and Moses was a big part of that. He had 28 catches for 518 yards and 8 Touchdowns as well as a 22 yard Touchdown run on an End around during the season opener against the Bengals. That put Haven in the Pro Bowl for the second and final time of his career.
The Broncos began to post more winning seasons after that and when they traded for Craig Morton in 1977, the “M&M Connection” was formed.
“When Craig came, I knew he had a heck of an arm and I knew he didn’t have any legs, but I figured I was going to catch a few more passes. I didn’t anticipate what happened. I don’t think either one of us saw that.”
They didn’t just see it, they were a part of it. “Broncomania” and the “Mile High Mystique” were born as the Orange Crush and “M&M Connection” catapulted the Broncos to a 12-2 record. In the AFC Championship Game on New Year’s Day, 1978, Moses caught five passes for 168 yards and two Touchdowns as the Broncos earned their first Super Bowl appearance.
After 1977, the Broncos were anonymous no more, both nationally and in the Mile High City.
Moses played 10 seasons with the Broncos as one of the team’s primary Wide Receivers. He started 127 of 140 games, with 302 receptions, 5,450 yards, an 18.0 yard average and 44 Touchdowns in a Bronco uniform. He also had 13 carries for 47 yards and a Touchdown.
Most of the Team records Haven set have been surpassed by the likes of Steve Watson, Ed McCaffrey, Rod Smith, Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal. but he left his mark in team Annals.
Tied for 4th in Touchdown catches with fellow Ring of Famer Lionel Taylor (44)
Tied for most Touchdowns in a Game (3)
2nd highest average per completion (18.0)
9th all-time with 302 catches
8th with 5,450 receiving yards
Haven was inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame in 1988 as part of a three-member class that included quarterback Craig Morton and kicker Jim Turner. He finished his Broncos career ranked 3rd in receptions (302) and receiving yards (5,450) while tying for 1st in receiving Touchdowns with 44. His yards-per-reception average for his Denver career was 18.0, which marks the 2nd-highest career total in franchise history, and he averaged more than 19 yards per catch in three consecutive seasons from 1976-78. Moses, who helped Denver to three playoff berths (1977-79), two division titles (1977-78) and its first ever Super Bowl berth (XII vs. Dallas during the 1977 season), was a key member of the first winning season in Broncos history in 1973. In 1979, he had career bests in receptions (54) and receiving yards (943).Haven led the Broncos in Receiving yardage 4 times, Touchdown catches 4 times and Receiving yard average 7 times.
After working for Coors as an Executive and directing the Denver Archdiocese’s Seeds of Hope program, Moses suffered a Stroke in 2003, but his childhood upbringing, family and faith couldn’t shake his determination. He taught himself how to golf all over again after the Stroke paralyzed his left side. He regained most of what was lost and continued as a servant of the community.
“I still have a lot to give, a lot to contribute. I’m not ready to kick the can yet. I would like to continue to be involved in the things that give back, that will give me a presence that will allow me to tell my story.”
For his contributions, Haven received the First Annual Distinguished Community Service Award from the Denver Broncos Alumni Association in November, 2005. He has earned countless other accolades for his community service, and to this day, is recognized and thanked by the members of Broncos Country in the Larimer Square neighborhood of Denver.
Denver was a Haven for him and whenever Craig Morton threw up a prayer, Moses was there to catch it.
– Kaptain Kirk