Anytime you take the field, against any opponet, memories of past battles can't help but creep into mind. The same cna be said for players on both sides of the field this Sunday when the Broncos and Niners end their respective regular seasons. For the Broncos and their fans, the Niners coming to town brings back thoughts of December 23, 2000 when the two teams met in what would be the final game ever played at Mile High Stadium. For the Niners the thoughts will be much darker, with players remembering the events of August 21, 2005 when Thomas Herrion collapsed and dies in the locker room after the game. The end of an era is trivial when compared to the end of a life, but thoughts on each will surely be there for the fans.
The Broncos 38-9 victory over the Niner's in the last game ever at Mile High Stadium propelled them back into the playoffs after a disappointing 6-10 mark the year prior. The season would end just a week later with a loss in Baltimore, the eventual Super Bowl Champions. Mile High Stadium was easily the toughest place to play for opposing teams, and the feeling that was alive there on game days has yet to be fully reproduced at Invesco Field @ Mile High. The stands rattled, TV Cameras shook, and opposing quarterbacks struggled to call signals. The Broncos jumped out to a 38-0 lead after 3 quarters before coasting to the 29 point victory. Though six years have passed since that final game, there will no doubt be thousands of fans this weekend in attendance that were there that day and will give a moments thoughts to times gone by, for better or worse.
The Niner's memories are much more vivid, much clearer in their minds. It was the 3rd pre-season game of the 2005 season and the Broncos had just finished off a 26-21 victory over the Niners and their new Head Coach Mike Nolan. Nolan had just addressed his team when Herrion, 23, a 6-3, 310 pound guard collapsed. CPR was administered immediately but attempts to resuscitate Herrion were unsuccessful. A heart defect was later found to be the cause, and nothing could have been don to prevent his loss. There is no doubt when the Niners head into the locker room before the game memories of that night will be close at hand.
Everyday life has events, small and large, that bring back memories of the past. Some good, some not so good. When the Broncos and Niners take the field, they'll do so with their own memories of times gone by.