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MHR Broncos History Lesson -- Broncomania

I am of the biased opinion that there isn't a greater fan on this Earth than those who don the Orange & Blue of the Denver Broncos.

The great thing about Broncomania is that it means something different to each and every fan.  To me it’s the fanatism I have in defense of all things Bronco.  I grew up being ridiculed and picked on for being a Bronco fan when every other Tom, Dick, or Harry person in my class were either 49er fans or Raider fans.  I took my licks with pride and wore more orange than I probably ever should have.  I mean I had Bronco hats, jackets, jerseys, shirts, sweaters, sweatpants, shoes, socks, and even underwear!  I had to make sure I wore something from my team every single day.  For me, every day was Orange Sunday.

That experience doesn’t make me more of a Bronco fan than anyone else, it just changes my mentality a bit.  For example, I look forward to talking smack to Raider fans more so than others, because I am just returning the favor of all the years of abuse I endured in the past.  The definition of a Broncomaniac is different to each of us and the idea of Broncomania has evolved over the years.

There is a history to Broncomania and that history has carried over into present times.  One cannot help but wonder if the mania that made the 12th man great is slowly disappearing.  Our home record in recent years is a disgrace and the announcers no longer refer to Bronco fans as being one of the loudest in the NFL.  It is partly our job to reignite the flames of passion in the hearts of all Broncos fans of the past, present, and future.  To do this we must remember why we are Broncomaniacs.  I can only give you a brief overview of the history of Broncomania.  It is up to you to remember what it was that brought you into the folds of mania and to keep that flame of passion burning brightly no matter how good or bad things might get.

To trace the origins of Broncomania you have to travel all the way back to 1967.  In that year, the Bronco fan base was small but loyal and Broncomania was still in its infancy.  Having saved the team from moving several years earlier, a new threat to the teams future in Denver had surfaces.  The AFL/NFL merger was beginning to be discussed and as one of the stipulations went, all teams must have a stadium with a capacity of 50,000.  No small feat for the dusty cow town of Denver, Colorado.  With the Broncos on the cusp of moving to a different city, their newest #1 draft pick, Floyd Little, and head coach Lou Saban set out on a mission to build a fan base in the greater Colorado area.

The net effect was the birth of the Broncomaniac.  Even an Orange Sunday was celebrated, but within a year every Sunday was Orange Sunday.  The fans became almost maniacal in their zeal for Broncos football.  The team during the late 60’s was probably the worst team ever fielded in Bronco history.  Floyd Little carried this team on his shoulders, allowing the Broncos to win at least a couple of games here and there.

Yet the fan base continued to grow and by the early 70’s it had become almost a religious following.  The Sea of Orange and the loudness of the stadium gave the Broncos an edge at home that most teams could only dream about.  The Broncos around this time finally started to win football games and they went from having one star player to have several stars and a dominating defense.  Broncomania seemed to grow with each season, culminating in a berth to the Super Bowl.

The fans of this earlier time were the most fanatical, dedicated, and passionate fans in the history of the Denver Broncos.  There are still Broncomaniacs today that are every bit as fanatical and passionate as the fans from those times, but the numbers of those kinds of fans are far fewer today.

After that Super Bowl loss in 1978 a whole new crop of Broncomaniacs were born.  The fans of the 80’s and 90’s endured a different kind of humiliation that the fans of the 60’s endured.  The fans of this era were humiliated by the fact that our team was winning, yet still a laughing stock to the league.  Four Super Bowls, countless division titles and playoff victories, but those four blowouts in the big game made the new era Broncos a joke to most of the fans around the league.

Support for the Broncos never wavered and the streak of consecutive home sellouts continued throughout the tough times.  Bronco fans were fortunate to have John Elway remaking the franchise in his image.  Without Elway, I doubt the Broncos make it to any Super Bowls after that first one.  He retired after redeeming himself and the entire Bronco world by winning the big game, twice.  With Elway’s retirement, another era in Bronco fandom ended.

The Broncomaniacs of this era were almost addicted to the excitement and drama that often accompanied Elway and the Broncos.  The highs and lows were always physically and mentally draining for the fans, but thanks to Elway, more often than not the games ended on a high note.  The two Super Bowl victories once again changed the face of Broncoland and a whole new crop of young fans came into the fold in the years during and after those two Championships.

The modern Bronco fan is predominately an evolved version of Broncos fans of previous generations and are wholly dedicated to winning Super Bowls.  They still hold true to bleeding orange and blue, but they have the attitude of expecting to see a championship caliber team take the field on Sundays.  The first generation, the second, and now the third all hold this view.  Get to the Super Bowl and WIN it or don’t even bother trying to get there.  We, as fans, have earned the right to demand excellence from the Bronco organization, but let’s not forget where we come from.

The modern fans of today have been charged to carry on the torch of Broncomania.  To remember the past and hold in high regard the glory days of the Orange Crush, Floyd Little, Lionel Taylor, Randy Gradishar, Rich “Tombstone” Jackson, and so many others that helped make this organization what it is today.  Which is ELITE.

Celebrate Orange Sunday(Thursday this year) on August 14th as the 49th birthday for the Denver Broncos.  Next year we will have to be a huge bash, as would be the case with any fiftieth birthday.  So there you have it, a brief history of Broncomania.  I am curious, what does Broncomania mean to you?