|Established 1960 |
Play in Denver, Colorado
American Football League (1960-1969)
National Football League (1970–present)
|Team colors||Navy Blue, Orange, and White|
|General Manager|| Joe Ellis (President) |
John Elway (VP of Football Operations)
|Head Coach||Vance Joseph|
Team Nicknames Orange Crush, The Drive
| League Championships (2)
| Conference Championships (6)
| Division Championships (10)
The Broncos were a small-market team that met with little success in their early years but have since become one of the elite franchises of the league after having advanced to the Super Bowl six times. The Broncos are now widely considered one of the most successful teams in the National Football League -- not only on the field, but also in fan support, measured both in TV ratings and merchandising. In their first four Super Bowl appearances, they suffered successively lopsided defeats, achieving near-legendary status as frustrated losers before winning back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 1998 and 1999 under quarterback John Elway, running back Terrell Davis and coach Mike Shanahan.
Foundation and Early YearsEdit
The Denver Broncos were founded on August 14, 1959 when minor league baseball owner Bob Howsam was awarded an American Football League charter franchise. The Broncos won the first-ever American Football League game over the Boston Patriots, 13–10, on September 9, 1960. On August 5, 1967, they became the first ever AFL team to defeat an NFL team after beating the Detroit Lions, 13–7, in a preseason game. Overall the Broncos were not successful in the 1960s, compiling a record of 39–97–4 in the league. However, the Broncos first superstar was "Franchise" Floyd Little, (due to his signing in 1967 and his Pro Bowl efforts on and off the field, he was instrumental in keeping the team in Denver).
Denver's franchise started out rough, managing its first winning season in 1973 after thirteen years of futility. They were the only original AFL team never to have played in the title game during the upstart league's 10-year history. Denver came close to losing its franchise in 1965, but a local ownership group took control that year and began to rebuild the team.
In 1972, the Broncos hired John Ralston as their Head Coach. Previous to joining the Broncos, Ralston was the Head Coach at Stanford University. The following year, 1973, he was UPI's choice as AFC Coach of the Year after Denver achieved its first-ever-winning season at 7-5-2. In five seasons with the Broncos, Ralston guided the team to winning seasons three times, the franchise's only three winning seasons up to that time. Even though Ralston finished the 1976 season with a winning record of 9-5, the team, as was the case in Ralston’s previous winning seasons, still failed to qualify for the playoffs. Following the 1976 season several prominent players publicly voiced their discontent with Ralston’s leadership which soon led to his dismissal by the team owner.
Rookie coach, Red Miller, along with the Orange Crush Defense (a nickname originating in the early '70's, also the name of a popular soda pop) and aging quarterback Craig Morton, promptly took the Broncos to their first playoff appearance in 1977 (and ultimately first Super Bowl, where they were defeated by the Dallas Cowboys, 27–10).
In 1981 Broncos owner Gerald Phipps, who had purchased the team in May of 1961 from the original owner Bob Howsam, sold the team to Canadian Financier, Edgar Kaiser, Jr., grandson of shipbuilding industrialist Henry J. Kaiser.
1980's and 1990's: John Elway, Shannon Sharpe, and Terrell DavisEdit
Quarterback John Elway arrived in 1983. Originally drafted by the Baltimore Colts as the first pick of the draft, Elway proclaimed that he would shun football in favor of baseball (he was drafted by the New York Yankees to play center field and was also a pitching prospect), unless he was traded to a selected list of other teams, which included Denver. Prior to Elway, Denver had over 24 different starting quarterbacks in its 23 seasons to that point. Elway would remain the quarterback through five Super Bowls, as he and the Broncos won two of them. He would also end his career as the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIII. He then went on to help the AFC win the Pro Bowl, his last NFL game. The Broncos lost Super Bowl XXI to the New York Giants, 39–20; Super Bowl XXII to the Washington Redskins, 42–10; and Super Bowl XXIV to the San Francisco 49ers, 55–10, the most lopsided scoring differential in Super Bowl history.
In 1995, the Broncos debuted a new head coach, Mike Shanahan, and a new rookie running back, Terrell Davis. During the 1997 season, both would help guide the Broncos to their first Super Bowl victory, a 31–24 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. Although Elway completed only 12 of 22 passing attempts, throwing one interception and no touchdowns (he did, however, have a rushing touchdown), Davis rushed for 157 yards and a Super Bowl-record three touchdowns to earn the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award - this while overcoming a severe migraine headache that caused him blurred vision. The Broncos repeated as Super Bowl champions the following season, defeating the Atlanta Falcons (led by Elway's longtime head coach Dan Reeves) in Super Bowl XXXIII, 34–19. Elway was named Super Bowl MVP, throwing for 336 yards and a touchdown (the touchdown pass being an 80-yard pass play to wide receiver Rod Smith). Elway also had a rushing touchdown.
Overall, Denver has reached the Super Bowl six times, winning it in the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
Elway retired following the 1998/1999 season. Since then, Denver has only had two losing seasons (1999, 2007). The team has made the playoffs as a wild card three times (2000, 2003, and 2004) and won the division once (2005). However, the Broncos have won only one playoff game since Elway's retirement. Prior to the 2005 season, they were plagued by late-season flops following early-season success. In both 2003 and 2004, they started the season 5–1 and ended 10–6. 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 Broncos hosted the AFC Championship and were defeated by the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers, 34–17.
In the years since Elway's retirement, it has become obvious that the Denver fans and media expect Elway-like perfection from the quarterback position. Both Brian Griese and Jake Plummer have faced severe scrutiny in attempting to succeed Elway as the team’s quarterback. Elway’s jersey remains the most frequently worn at Invesco Field at Mile High, with the crowd generally voicing their loudest ovations when his name is mentioned or shown. Many members of the media have run stories and articles on the pressures that come with playing quarterback in Denver, as most fans believe no player will ever live up the standard set by Elway.
Elway’s overwhelming popularity in Colorado is generally attributed to a number of factors, including the extensive length of time spent on the team at the league’s premier position, his leading of 4th quarter comebacks, his community work throughout the state and retiring directly after two Super Bowl wins (the last of which being his final game of his career in which he was Super Bowl MVP).
Denver Broncos roster
| Reserve Lists
updated January 1, 2018