For 15 consecutive years, Denver Broncos quarterbacks have been protected by the Number 78.
Starting in 1998, when Matt Lepsis took over for the retiring Gary Zimmerman (and still helped the Broncos reach Super Bowl glory), and continuing to the present day, there has been a #78 jersey on Denver's blind side. When Lepsis retired in 2007, the Broncos drafted Ryan Clady with their top overall pick; Clady took over Lepsis's roster spot (and jersey number), and the Broncos didn't miss a beat.
Clady is a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All Pro, already making him the most decorated tackle in franchise history. Clady is only 26 years old.
Of course, Ryan Clady is only set to remain with the Broncos for another year as it stands now. Clady is Denver's franchise player and so has a one-year deal available to him that he has yet to sign. The Broncos have until July 15th to sign Clady to a long-term deal.
Here's hoping Clady, and the #78, continue to represent the Broncos for years to come.
SPOILER ALERT (for tomorrow's countdown) - The Broncos' were coming off their 1977 Super Bowl loss in 1978, but the hangover didn't affect the works too badly. The Broncos finished 10-6 and won the AFC West for the second year in a row. The Red Miller-led Broncos ultimately lost in the first round to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 33-10.
Cool #78 Factoids:
- New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick served as assistant special teams coach and defensive assistant for the Broncos in 1978, his only season with the club.
- Demaryius Thomas failed to hold onto a 22-yard pass in the end zone from Peyton Manning in Week 2 of 2012 (Falcons safety William Moore broke it up). Had DT hauled it in, he would have finished the night with 100 yards. Instead, he was left with 78.
- Future Hall of Famer and Ring of Famer Champ Bailey was born in 1978.
- Want another cool/random Bailey-related 78 factoid? Bailey had 78 yards -- RECEIVING -- for the Washington Redskins in 2000.
Notable Broncos to wear #78:
Matt Lepsis (1998-2007)
Marv Montgomery (1971-76) (particularly notable for that excellent last name).
Current Bronco wearing #78:
Ryan Clady (2008 - Present)
Quiz of the Day: #78:
78 was the number of points scored by Denver's leading scorer (among skill position players) in 2012. Guess the player's name in the comments!