The Denver Broncos are one of only a handful of teams to win back-to-back Super Bowls, competing in it on a number of other occasions. Although recent form has been disappointing, they still remain one of the most successful teams ever to have graced the NFL, introducing some memorable players along the way.
The Denver Broncos were founded in 1959 by Bob Howsam, whose financial status was so uncertain that the team were initially forced to play in second-hand kits.
On September 9th, 1960, they took park in the first ever AFL (American Football League) game against the Boston Patriots, and immediately got off to a winning start by beating them 13-10.
Another first was made on August 5th, 1967 when, in beating the Detroit Lions 13-7, they became the first ever AFL team to beat a team from the NFL (National Football League), who were at the time the dominant force in the game.
The following decade was difficult and unsuccessful. Due in part to only being a small setup, the Broncos failed to manage a winning season until 1973.
A shock came in 1965 when they almost lost their franchise due to further economic hardships. However, they were rescued when Gerald and Allan Phipps bought the team and the Bears Stadium, (later renaming it Mile High Stadium), which saw an immediate increase in ticket sales and a change in fortunes for the team.
A taste of success
1977 was the first time that the Broncos would taste real success. Under Red Miller, a coach with little experience, and quarterback Craig Morton, they enjoyed a successful campaign to reach the playoffs for the first time in the club’s history.
Their first playoff was against the Pittsburgh Steelers, whom they dispatched 34-21 to end up in the AFC Championship Game. Their opponents in this were the Oakland Raiders, and the Broncos managed to gain a narrow victory of 20-17 to take them all the way to Super Bowl XII.
But they could not keep up their run of success. Their opponents, the Dallas Cowboys, were simply too good on the day, and sent the Broncos out with a disappointing 27-10 loss.
In 1983, quarterback John Elway arrived, and would see the team through their most successful times. Unusually for a player, he was also in contention as a baseball player, but he decided to stay with football and the Broncos fans were pleased that he did. He provided them with a consistency that they had never previously enjoyed, having used a different quarterback for nearly every season so far.
1984 saw an immediate return on this investment, as they went on to win the AFC West once again. However, they failed to capitalise on their success and went out to the Pittsburgh Steelers to prevent another chance at the Championship.
The 1986 season saw one of the team’s finest performances so far. Having stormed the AFC West, they went through to the playoffs full of confidence, and beat the New England Patriots 22-17.
Finally through to another AFC Championship Game, they were having a hard time against the Cleveland Browns, trailing 20-13 at one point. However, Elway would once again prove the hero as he tied the game with only 37 seconds left, and they then won in overtime to send them through to Super Bowl XXI.
However, they could not overcome the New York Giants and fell at the last hurdle once again, as the Giants beat them 39-20.
Amazingly, they would reach exactly the same place the following year in Super Bowl XXII, but failed to capitalise on a 10-0 lead against the Washington Redskins to go home defeated yet again, leaving with a disastrous 42-10 loss.
Although they would reach yet another Super Bowl in 1989, this time they would go out to the San Francisco 49ers in a humiliating 55-10 loss. It would not be until 1997 that they would finally go one step further and get their hands on the long sought-after trophy
This time they were up against the Green Bay Packers after qualifying as a Wild Card contender from the Division.
The Packers would not prove to be an easy opposition but, despite Davis suffering from a disabling migraine on the day and Elway playing far from his best, they managed to overcome their opponents to take the game 31-24, becoming the World Series champions for the first time.
Miraculously, they managed to achieve the same feat the following year, this time against the Atlanta Falcons, whom they beat 34-19.
It was a phenomenal success to win the Super Bowl two seasons in a row, and it showed to the world just how far the Broncos had come since their early days.
The next few years were still successful, despite no further appearances at the Super Bowl. In 2000, 2003 and 2004 they managed to reach the playoffs as a Wild Card contender. However, their performances in the playoffs were poor, winning only one.
This could in part be down to the loss of their talisman, Elway, at the end of the 1999 season. Although the team can never be put down to one player, his skill was certainly missed.
That said, they still only suffered losing seasons twice, in 1999 and 2007, in the years after his retirement.
2005 was far better, ending up with a winning record of 13-3.
Having disappointingly lost their first game of the season to the Miami Dolphins, they then pulled back to go on a five-game winning streak.
The AFC West Division title was won with a game in hand when they beat the Oakland Raiders 22-3 on Christmas Eve.
Going into the playoffs, the Broncos had the momentum behind them and were determined to make a success of things. Their first opponents were the New England Patriots, who had won the previous two Super Bowls, and were therefore a formidable force to be reckoned with. However, the Broncos swept them away with a score of 27-13.
However, in the AFC Championship which they hosted, they were unfortunately beaten by the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-17, after being 24-3 down in the first half.
The following season, the Denver Broncos were still showing good form. They managed another record by only allowing one touchdown against them in five games, a phenomenal defensive record. However, as the season continued, their form slipped.
With the exception of a victory over the Arizona Cardinals on December 17th, when quarterback Jay Cutler threw a 68 yard touchdown to Javon Walker, the season was unspectacular and they did not manage to reach the playoffs.
A dark period for the club then followed. On New Year’s Day, 2007, the cornerback Darrent Williams was shot and killed whilst in the back of a limousine. The club’s wide receiver, Javon Walker, was also in the limousine that was peppered with bullet holes, but he escaped unharmed.
With his nine starts in his first year for the club, Williams had achieved the most starts for a rookie cornerback in franchise history.
Tragically, a second death was to strike the club only months after the first, when running back Damien Nash collapsed and died during a charity basketball match on February 24th.
After the loss of Williams, the Broncos brought in Dre’ Bly to replace him. He was only one of a number of changes that they hoped would bring them greater fortune during the season.
The first game was a nail biter, winning against the Buffalo Bills 15-14, thanks to a last second field goal kick courtesy of Jason Elam. Remarkably, he would go on to perform exactly the same feat the following week against the Oakland Raiders, stealing victory from the jaws of defeat once again.
However, their 7-9 losing record was the worst since 1999, and for the second year running they failed to make the playoffs.
They can only look ahead to next season now, when they hope to change things around and get back to their winning ways.
The home of the Denver Broncos has been the Mile High Stadium for most of their existence. Since 1970, when the NFL and the AFL merged, they have managed to achieve sell-out crowds for every game, with the exception of two during the 1987 strike, a record which demonstrates their loyal and dedicated fan base.
It has steel flooring instead of concrete leading to a louder stadium, which some claim gives them a greater home advantage. This could be true, seeing as they have enjoyed the best home record out of any team over the past 32 years.
However, the Mile High Stadium was demolished after they moved to INVESCO Field at Mile High in 2001, which is built right next to it.
Logos and kit
In 1962 the team held a public fire to burn their previous kit, which was widely hated. Following this they moved on to the far more visually pleasing white trousers and orange helmets.
In 1968 they developed their logo, which depicted a white horse coming out of an orange ‘D’ and became known as the ‘Orange Crush’.
Their present kit and logo, however, arise from 1997. The new logo is again of a horse, but without the ‘D’, and the jerseys are navy blue instead of orange. Although it was originally slated by their fans, it gained popularity when it became the kit that they wore for their first ever Super Bowl, and it has remained popular ever since.
Super Bowl Champions
- 1997 – Super Bowl XXXII
- 1998 – Super Bowl XXXIII
- 1977, 1978, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, 2005
The following are all members of the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame:
- Steve Atwater (DB)
- Terrell Davis (RB)
- John Elway (QB)
- Austin "Goose" Gonsoulin (S)
- Randy Gradishar (LB)
- Gerald H. Phipps (Owner)
- Rich Jackson (DE)
- Tom Jackson (LB)
- Charley Johnson (QB)
- Floyd Little (RB)
- Karl Mecklenburg (LB)
- Craig Morton (QB)
- Haven Moses (WR)
- Dennis Smith (S)
- Paul Smith (DE)
- Lionel Taylor (WR)
- Bill Thompson (DB)
- Frank Tripucka (QB)
- Jim Turner (K)
- Louis Wright (CB)
- Gary Zimmerman (T)