Ladies and gentlemen, there's a lot more riding on tomorrow's action than we all realize. If the Broncos fail to clinch the playoffs, it will be the last time the Broncos take the field in their predominantly blue and orange uniforms.
On a lark, I thought I'd see how the Broncos did in their last games before a major uniform shift (ignoring, of course the throwback games in which some of these uniforms have been revived). I've also omitted the many minor variations and have limited my focus to the most substantial uniform changes. While the change to orange isn't a complete uniform redesign, but rather a switch to what is our current alternate uniform, the change is still substantial enough to merit consideration with the uniforms pictured below.
Jump with me, will you?
Mustard and Brown (Last Worn December 10, 1961):
Denver Broncos vs. Dallas Texans. This was about as ugly as season (or uniform) finales get. The Broncos rushed 18 times for 20 yards and no touchdowns. Add to that total 199 passing yards, five turnovers and you've got yourself a complete mustard and brown meltdown. One of the few Broncos highlights was a Goose Gonsulin interception of a Len Dawson pass. That wouldn't be nearly close enough to get the job done though, the Texans would beat the Broncos, 49-21.
Orange With Blue Sleeves (Last Worn December 18, 1966):
First a personal caveat: I think these are some of the best looking jersey designs ever to exist in the league. Sure they borrow a bit from the Jets, but with the addition of a slightly more fierce helmet design, they could be a great starting point for future redesigns.
Denver Broncos vs. Buffalo Bills. Again, the last game played in these uniforms did not go well for the Denver Broncos. Denver rushed 18 times for 44 yards and no touchdowns. With rushing stats like that it was no wonder that the Broncos went after Hall of Famer Floyd Little in the 1967 draft. Passing the ball, Denver racked up an impressive 320 yards but again, with 5 turnovers it was another tragic end to what I consider a great uniform. The few bright spots were 3 touchdowns from WR Bob Scarpitto and 2 interceptions by (soon-to-be Raiders legend and Hall of Famer) Willie Brown. Bills would beat the Broncos, 38-21
Classic D Design (Last Worn January, 4 1997):
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Denver Broncos. As Bronco uniform finales have gone, this one trumps all the rest in terms of emotional pain. In the 1961 and 1966 seasons, there were no expectations going into the last games. Fans knew that the Broncos were terrible and hopes were tempered. In 1997, this was not the case. The Broncos had finished their season 13-3 and were the odds on favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. That is until the Jaguars ripped out Denver's beating heart and Ndomukong Suh'd it on the 50 yard line in front of all of Broncos Country at Mile High Stadium. This was without a doubt one of the worst losses in the history of the Denver Broncos franchise. Rather than regale you with stats from a game that still stings for me, I've found a fanpost written by YouAreSignedIn from just a couple months ago that breaks the game down into every agonizing detail. Read it here.
Predominantly Blue (Last Worn ????????? ??, 2012):
On October 22, 2009 KaptainKirk posted this article on what it would take to bring back the Broncos Orange. On November 16, 2010 this FanShot from OrangeandBlue27 highlighted an petition effort by the folks at www.bringbackbroncosorange.com to return the Denver Broncos to their trademark orange uniforms. Their site garnered nearly 10,000 signatures and the fanshot received an impressive 30 recs from the MHR community. Surveys taken by the team were overwhelmingly reporting that Broncos Country was ready for a change.
On October 3, 2011 the NFL gave final approval to the switch and Broncos fan rejoiced. No longer would we see our beloved Orange only twice a year. No longer would our children be confused when watching the Dolphins or Bears play in their alternates. The Broncos in 2012 will once again own the color orange.
The game at home against the Chiefs tomorrow signals the end of the 2011 regular season. If we fail to make the playoffs, it will be the last time we take the field with the uniform that we wore when we won our two Super Bowls (granted, we played SB XXXIII in our white away uniforms, but we wore our blues to get us there).
For better, we get to wear the blues at least one more time in a home playoff game in the Wildcard round. For worse, tomorrow is the blue uniform's swan song. There's a lot more riding on tomorrow's game than just the playoffs. We have to show respect to the uniform that colored our greatest accomplishments as Denver Broncos fans.
What color jersey will you be wearing tomorrow?