Growing up with excitement and anticipation for the upcoming Broncos season every year as many of us have, the memories have made me think back through the proud eras of our beloved Orange n’ Blue. Being one of the most successful franchises in the history of the NFL gives us much to proud of, as we are one of the few teams that not only expects, but actually IS, a contender year-in and year-out. History bears it out: A sellout streak of home games that goes back to the 1970 season, with only 6 losing season since the mid-’ 70s and being at .500 or better 31 of the past 37 years, the best home record in the NFL since 1975, 6 AFC Titles and 2 World Championships. Very few teams can boast similar stats!
In my earliest memories of childhood I can picture playing football outside with my friends, waiting for a kickoff or punt to return (at that age, mostly a throw in the air to simulate such), and fielding it in my mind as Rick Upchurch, still to this day one of the most dangerous men ever to return the football. Number 7 at that time was worn by Craig Morton, not in the least bit mobile like the NEXT number 7, but had a heck of an accurate throw and took us to our very first Super Bowl. On the other end of those passes most of the time was the 2nd “M” in the “M & M Connection”, Haven Moses. Quite a lethal combo! But our offense at that time was conservative by nature, not as known for the vertical passing game as it was for the running efforts by committee of Otis Armstrong, Dave Preston, Rob Lytle, Larry Canada, and Jon Keyworth, who in one form or another would run for around 2,000 yards a season in combination for the offense, who only had to keep drives alive, run the clock, and score just enough to give us the wins that our stout defense would most assuredly nail shut.
And about that defense: The birth of the Orange Crush! Randy Gradishar, Bob Swenson, Joe Rizzo, and Tom Jackson: quite the set of linebackers! Jackson provided the emotion and heart, while Gradishar provided the clutch tackles and lateral pursuit to assure that no offense would drive for long against the Crush. Rubin Carter with the up front push, Steve Foley, Billy Thompson, Louis Wright covering the backfield…the names just pop out at you when recalling this glorious defense with the goal-line stands, game ending interceptions, passes defensed, fumbles caused, and clutch play after clutch play! Of course, the ice-kicks of Jim Turner…Deep in my memories of being an awestruck kid idolizing these heroes, this is the era that caused my undying love and loyalty for the Broncos, all things Denver, and Mile High Pride! Like they say, “You never forget your first love”, and to me that applies to the first Broncos rosters I became entrenched in. Just like now, as a kid back then I could rattle of statistics and numbers, recall game details, and argue facts with the best of them!
Skipping through the eras of the ‘ 80s and ‘ 90s more names come to mind: Steve Watson, Gerald Willhite, Sammy “The Mississippi Mudwalker” (Side) Winder, Ron Egloff, Riley Odoms, Barney Chavous, Rulon Jones, Keith Bishop, Karl Mecklenburg, Dennis Smith, Steve “The Smiling Assassin” Atwater, Rich Karlis and his bare foot, the 3 Amigos of Jackson, Johnson, and Nattiel, Steve Sewell, Clarence Kay, Mike Harden, Simon Fletcher, Tyrone “Chicken” Braxton, Billy Bryan, the Widell brothers Dave and Doug, Fred Steinfort, Reggie Rivers, Harold Hasselbach, Ray Crockett, John Mobley, Keith Burns, Al Wilson, Jason Elam, Maa Tanuvasa, Vaughn Hebron, Gary Zimmerman, Mark Schlereth…These names! The memories I lived and died by along side of, season after season. Oh and just making sure you’re still with me…how about John Elway, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith? Howard Griffith, Trevor Pryce, Alfred Williams and Neil Smith too. The core of our Super Bowl rings and Lombardi Trophies and ultimate MILE HIGH PRIDE!
And now to 2013…Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Trindon Holliday, Montee Ball, Von Miller, Champ Bailey, Derek Wolfe, Ronnie Hillman, Sylvester Williams…what glory awaits us THIS season?!?! Once again, the W’s are expected, contending for the crown is predicted, and so it continues: A HISTORY OF VICTORY!!!! Can you feel the MILE HIGH PRIDE!
Brain M, Bronco Planet Blogger