I am a die hard, college aged Broncos Fan. Growing up in Colorado I loved the Broncos more then your average local Colorado kid. Since 1st grade, I have watched nearly every Broncos game, learned to read by reading the Denver Post sports section, and the best part of going to college was being able to decorate the "Broncos Wall" in the living room I shared with 4 other Broncos Fan.
I was only in Kindergarden when the Broncos lost to the Jags, and I really considered myself to be a Broncos fan starting in 1997 (this is the first year I can actually remember watching games, although I was still far to young to remember much detail or track the major happenings in the league). All I remember of the loss to JAX was flying back from my Grandparents house in Tenessee, and the pilot updating everyone on the game throughout the flight, and my dad being very sad when he picked us up because we had lost. I own both Broncos NFL Films Superbowl videos (which I've re-watched countless times) and basically everything I know about the disappointment that was the 1996 season (besiedes what I've read on twitter this year) comes from the few clips they showed in those games, talking about the extreme disappointment, how we were superbowl favorites and lost in the first round, and how it motivated us to come back stronger.
However, what I'm not quite sure about is what changed between the 96 and 97 Broncos seasons. Again, most of my knowledge comes from the NFL films video, but it seems the Broncos were large underdogs in 97, not being favored in the divisional, championship or superbowl rounds. What changed between the 96 and 97 teams? Did people write off Elway as too old (being 35 vs 36)? Did the other contenders (Steelers, chiefs, Packers, etc) simply improve between 96 and 97? Did the Broncos lose several big name free agents? Did people think Elway was doomed to fail and would never get a superbowl ring?
Anyone who could provide this young Broncos fan with overview of those 96 and 97 seasons, the make up of the teams, what differed between them and explain how we fell from favorites to underdogs in one season would be much appreciated. Explaining in the comments or another FanPost would be awesome. Thanks so much MHR