Easily considered the greatest day in Denver Broncos history, Super Bowl XXXII was the vindication all of us Broncos fans at the time were looking for. It also happens to be the most covered historical event on any blog covering the Broncos, the best of which happens to be here on Mile High Report. That said, I decided to approach this historical review a little differently.
I began asking people I knew how they celebrated this historic event. I'll start with my own, then those I asked, but I'd also like to hear all of your stories in the comments section below!
On January 25, 1998, I had just moved from my home town in northern California after graduating from high school to San Diego. I cannot stress how much fun that town is as an 18-19 year old kid, but it was. On this day, however, I was alone. I lived with my dad at the time and he knew well enough to find somewhere to be that day because he could not stand how I watched football.
Super Bowl History
The 1977 Denver Broncos Rise to Power
The 1977 season for the Denver Broncos was one of legend and lives on today as strong as ever, shaping the fanbase into a maniacal one full of orange fervor.
Super Bowl History
Yes, I scream. I yell. I curse. It is what it was and fortunately I've grown out of that. I lived just miles from Jack Murphy Stadium, so I could hear the fireworks and the crowd from my third story balcony. I hung my Broncos banner from the railings and did my best to deal with the anxiety of this game.
I recall after Brett Favre drove the Green Bay Packers down the field to score that first touchdown that all my hopes for this game were dashed just like that, but then something happened. Terrell Davis and the Broncos answered right back, driving methodically down the field for their own opening touchdown score. I remember thinking, "Well, that doesn't normally happen!".
Then the Broncos defense started forcing some turnovers and before I knew it the Broncos were up 17-7. That's when I knew this game would be different. Even with Terrell Davis out, my gut told me he would be back considering he was walking on his own and they were reporting he had a headache. My 18-19 year old self felt that kind of "injury" was bullcrap and that TD would end up manning up for the second half. Yes, I wasn't very compassionate back then.
Fast forward to that final drive, after Steve Atwater took himself and like eleven other guys out of the game (most of them his fellow Broncos) with that huge third down pass defense, and I was a nervous wreck. All I could think about was how many starters were out for this critical 4th down play and instead of attacking the weakness, Brett Favre went short against John Mobely, one of our best linebackers. Pass incomplete ... mayhem. I cried tears of relief and joy, but more importantly I screamed and screamed. My voice was gone that day.
Awesome. That is everything I felt in one word. Awesome. ~Tim Lynch
Well, for me it was a special time. I had just graduated college in December 1997 and accepted a job that would put me in Missouri. Before I started my job that February, I was still living at home. As a Broncos fan I was completely satisfied with the ’97 playoff season with Denver’s "Revenge Tour" happening. At the time, my folks still lived in SW Kansas so the local Chief fan base was angry, quiet and bitter with KC choking at Arrowhead in the Divisional round. Before the game, everyone kept asking me if Denver would win the Super Bowl. Being used to all the SB losses, I would tell them "I hope so…it will be the cherry on top if they do. I got my satisfaction this year with them beating the Jags, Chiefs and Steelers".
When the game was about to kick off, I sat at home on the couch alone with nothing but butterflies. My folks had to work that evening and my younger brothers were also out. I had my old school Elway jersey on and no beer. When the game started, I saw the Packers and Brett Favre take the ball and score on the first drive. All I could think was "OH HELL! NOT AGAIN!" But something happened; the Broncos calmly took the ball and started busting mouths with Terrell Davis’ running. I was eased by the small OL pushing and chopping the "vaunted" Packers D.
Then the next defensive series, Favre was harassed and overthrew his man and the ball went into the arms of Tyrone Braxton. After that play I was yelling "Chicken!" (Braxton’s nickname). The Broncos then took the ball and ran it down their throat again. Davis was hurt and there was a timeout (migraine). John Elway ran the ball in for the second TD to take the lead. My neighbors (other Broncos fans) across the street were having a party and a friend of mine was just arriving to watch the game with them. I stepped out of the front door and yelled to him about Elway’s TD. I went back to my seat to witness Steve Atwater blasting Favre and forcing the fumble.
With Davis out, Vaughan Hebron was a poor sub and they were forced to kick the FG. Jason Elam went out there and nailed a 51 yarder to increase the lead. I was hooting and hollering the whole time in most of that half until they said that Davis was going to the locker room. After pinning the Pack deep, I watched as Favre marched the O down the field and to a TD. It was 17-14, but I was nervous at that time.
After the half, thanks to living in KS and 850 KOA turning up their frequency at night, I got to turn them on and listen to Dave Logan do the play by play the rest of the game. The sideline reporter reported that Davis was coming back and I was relieved. Unfortunately, that was gone once he fumbled on the first play from scrimmage. At least the Pack only got a FG. After some punts were exchanged, the Broncos marched down the field and the play of the Super Bowl happened –the HELICOPTER- Elway took the ball and scrambled for a first down. As he leapt, diving forward he was hit and spun around with his butt hitting the turf. He did it! First down! I was going crazy with that play. Davis scored a few plays later and took the lead again.
Then on the kickoff return, the special teams forced a fumble and gave the Broncos the ball back. Then those high emotions were dashed when Elway got greedy to score fast. I was yelling at the TV to run the ball since the Pack hasn’t stopped Davis all day. Favre then took the ball and led the Pack to tie the game. I was on pins and needles at that time.
After the defenses locked the game down, Denver got the ball at the Pack 49 with 3:27 left. Elway handed off to Davis and was tackled and face-masked, leading to another 15 yards. Elway then play faked, threw to Howard Griffith and he got inside the 10. On the reception, Ed McCaffrey lit up LB Brian Williams on a sick block. I jumped out of the chair and was jumping around the living room after that play. Davis then took the ball and appeared to score, but could not tell thanks to all of the cameras and media bunched at the sideline. It didn’t matter since Shannon Sharpe was busted for holding. With Denver back at the 18, they ran the same play and Davis was knocked out at the 1. At this point the anticipation was killing me. On the next snap, Davis took the ball in for the TD! I couldn’t believe it! Denver was winning the Super Bowl and the time was almost out.
Favre took the ball over and got into Denver territory. I was yelling for anyone to stop the Pack drive. On third down, Steve Atwater smashed two guys and I was panicking because there was no one left to defend the pass. After the injury timeout, Favre went back to pass with Denver blitzing. The ball left his hand only to see John Mobley knock the ball away on 4th down. I went nuts yelling and ran over to the neighbor’s house to celebrate with other fellow Broncos fans. They opened the door and let me in. We had a group hug and cheers galore. I went back home to bask in the moment and being one of the few Bronco fans in my family, my Grandma of all people called to express congratulations. It was a wonderful night! ~mdierk
I got out of bootcamp right as the regular season started. After bootcamp, I was off to my school training in Florida. Because of this, I didn't get to watch every game that year, but I did stay glued to ESPN, AFN (Armed Forces Network), and anything else I could get my hands on. I would call back home non stop to talk about the Broncos and find out how they looked. I'd write letters home to get additional info.
Thankfully when the playoffs started, I was able to see all the games. When the Super Bowl was on, I was THE ONLY Broncos fan in my entire barracks. I wore my Shannon Sharpe jersey and went into our floor's main television room to watch the game. I was so unbelievably pumped. I stood up the entire game as I couldn't relax enough to actually sit down. The Packers scored first, but the Broncos answered right back. At that point, I said to myself "whew, this won't be another 55-10 beatdown at least." Then TD went out and I saw our offense sputter. I started to get really worried, and all the Packer fans started giving me shit that Elway was choking again (who knows, maybe he was).
Then TD came back in the game and put down an ass kicking the likes I've never seen before. Before I know it, Ed McCaffrey is laying fools out and pointing at them like Doc Freaking Holiday taunting Johnny Ringo as he goes down from a gunshot wound to the head. I was clapping my hands, jumping up and down, and yelling. I KNEW this game wasn't like the failed Super Bowl trips of the past. I KNEW that with our defense stepping up, and our offense finally in tact, that there is no way that the Packers would win.
Then it happened... Elway does his famous 2" vertical leap, Davis runs into a hole so wide that Paris Hilton would be jealous, and Atwater laid out half of each team! We won! We REALLY WON! I immediately got goosebumps (hell, I'm getting them as I write this). I also leaked a little bit of awesome from my eyes! I was so overjoyed. It was if I found out my dad was Superman. I was so thrilled that I couldn't even speak. This was pre-cell phone days (well, at least they way they are as we know them), so I high tailed it out of there to my room so that I could call all my family back in Colorado. It was such a magical moment and night. I was talking on my corded phone while pacing back and forth and shivering in excitement. I had waited my entire life for that moment. That moment was different from the moment that WILL happen in 2 weeks because it was our first championship. There are so few firsts in this world, but I was alive and witness to this one, and honestly, I've never been happier with regards to a football game since that magical night. The monkey was finally off not only Elway's back, but also our fans' back and city's back. It's a night and feeling that I'll never forget and hopefully feel again! ~BigPete
My most vivid memory of Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII is having dinner with my family.
All nine of us (yes, nine - mom, dad, and seven kids), sitting around the family table... all dressed in the new-Bronco-logo John Elway jerseys we got for Christmas.
Watching John Elway finally win the big one, all of us in his colors and in his number, was something I'll never forget. ~Monty
After they won, I'll never forget hopping in the car with my mom and dad. We went and drove Federal BLVD and the street was packed with other Broncos faithful. Bumper to bumper both lanes were jampacked with Broncos fanatics driving as slow as possible while honking, screaming, cheering. The city of Denver was so joyous. An older hippie looking man climbed on the trunk of his car holding an old school Broncos flag with the "D" in the helmet. He held that flag and rode for blocks as we all celebrated our 1st World Championship. ~Bronco Mike
I want to put my experience of SB XXXII in context. My family moved to Denver in 1969. We suffered through mediocre seasons until Denver's first post season appearance in 1977. Then we got to suffer through three more Super Bowl losses before the Broncos made it to SB XXXII.
So it was with no small amount of mixed feelings that my wife, my two daughters -- ages 12 & 10 -- and I all donned our Broncos shirts and sat down in front of the television to watch the game. We yelled when the Packers scored first, then celebrated as the Broncos built up a 17-7 lead. We began to worry when the Packers fought back. When Denver went up 31-24, my wife was on the edge of the couch, I was kneeling on the floor in front of the TV and my daughters were bouncing up and down next to me. We were yelling at the TV and pleading with the Broncos as the Packers made their final drive. When Favre's final pass ended up on the turf, we yelled ourselves hoarse. It was a family experience we will always treasure. ~Brian Shrout
And it was a story that started much before '98, somewhere around '89, maybe '90... Running and falling over someone's white picket fence running through front yards and tripping down unmaintained side yards. Holes in jeans and untied shoe strings, skinned palms and bloody noses. Rocks at my head and extra hard tackles at recess, all because I refused to not support the Denver Broncos. You would think that there wouldn't be so many Los Angeles Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins transplant fans in Cheyenne, Wyoming of all places-- yet this seems to be where they all ended up. Being a Broncos fan was such a lonely thing to be back then. Broncos fans were were the drug addicts of the early '90's, you kept fandom quiet, sometimes not even your friends knew. Those that wore their Denver fandom on their sleeve, back or heart were too far gone to bring back.
Super Bowl History
Broncos vs. Redskins - Super Bowl XXII
The 1987 Denver Broncos entered this game as favorites, only to get blown out in a single 15 minute stretch of surreal football.
Super Bowl History
It was 1989, maybe 1990-- either the worst loss in Super Bowl history or the 10-7 loss in the AFC Championship Game to the Buffalo Bills and their number one offense that our defense kept scoreless. The one where John Elway got hurt and Gary Kubiak came in to relieve him. That is when it all started and thank god the Bills went 0-4 in Super Bowls from '90-'94 or I most likely wouldn't have a face left from the beatings that occurred in those late '80's/early '90's. Then Pat Bowlen went in, in 1994 following the 49ers Super Bowl win with his disguise, dead set on getting Mike Shanahan to coach his team. Bowlen had already been told no by Shanahan in 1993 (much like Adam Gase is now saying no to the Cleveland Browns).
Finally Shanahan took control in 1995 and Denver promptly went 8-8. It was a smack in the mouth, finding out your father figure was really a coward, a fake, a phony, all of those things. That wasn't it though, for even that was a deception-- names like Terrell Davis, Ed McCaffrey, Rod Smith, Brian Habib, Shannon Sharpe, Tom Nalen, Mark Schlereth, Gary Zimmerman, John Mobley, Alfred Williams, Bill Romanowski, Ray Crockett, Keith Burns, Maa Tanuvasa, Jason Elam, Tory James and Steve Atwater were starting to populate the roster. Denver was clearly in the empire building business. Oh and they had the greatest quarterback in history at the helm in John Elway.
19 weeks later, they were 13-4 (which included the Broncos second string losing 16-10 in week 17 to the San Diego Chargers) and back on the couch after a 30-27 loss at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Those same Jaguars would move to the AFC Championship and lose to the second seeded New England Patriots. The Patriots would go on to lose to the Green Bay Packers, who had beat Denver 41-6 in Week 15 that year. That should have been a rematch, Denver should have been in the Super Bowl. Icarus got too close to the sun and crashed hard to the ground covered in hot wax and his own narcissism.
So, we're here the year of Super Bowl XXXII, a few new names: Howard Griffith, Trevor Pryce, Neil Smith, Keith Traylor and Darrien Gordon were added. Now the Broncos are set, right? Wrong, 12-4 gets them a home game in the Wild Card where they decimated Jacksonville this time. Traveled to Kansas City, then to Pittsburgh before their final stop in San Diego where they would face Green Bay.
We should have been here last year, last year was our game, this year is just wrapping up unfinished business (feels kind of familiar to 2013 actually)... Elway and empire building. Watching the game in my basement, my parents freshly divorced, I am with my two best friends Tracy and Chris and we're sneaking sips of St. Ides and mixing Jose Cuervo with coca-cola in our mouths in a back room before heading back into watch this game that we all knew that we were supposed to win. Yet, being 0-4 in Super Bowls at that point who knew at this point whether Denver was capable of winning the big game.
People remember the helicopter dive, but that to me has always been a cop out. I remember that Terrell Davis had a migraine. I had migraines, I knew that meant that he couldn't see. That even breathing was too loud, I could only imagine that 70,000+ people just made your mouth taste like blood and your ears sensitivity caused your body to do all types of involuntary things. Most impressively that migraine came in the first quarter. He missed almost all of the second quarter. Then he finished the game with 150+ yards and three touchdowns... That's how you do it son.
Being teenaged and inebriated that spoke to me at that moment, someone can do anything under any circumstances. A man with even his own body turning against him owned the game he loved on the world's biggest stage.
Of course that type of narrative couldn't compare to anyone on the current roster, could it? People want to compare Peyton Manning to Elway, but they're comparing apples to oranges. In 1997 Elway set a team record with 27 touchdowns in a season. It was Davis that was rushing for 2,000 yards in 1998 (only the fourth person to ever do so at that time). Not to take anything away from Elway, but the Broncos were in the playoffs with Tim Tebow at quarterback. Peyton's the catfish, just like Davis was then and once again Elway is directly involved. ~Ian Henson