How many of you wept sometime after that 4th down pass that John Mobley broke up which sealed the first Super Bowl Championship ever brought to the great city of Denver? I have never been prone to weeping, nor am I overly emotional on a daily basis(excluding Bronco games). However, on that day I wept like I had never before done. It wasn't a sad cry like when a close family member passes away, rather they were tears of pure joy and happiness that I had never experienced before.
Naturally as a young man I didn't have the life experiences of a new father or the experiences of being married to the woman of his dreams, but up to that point the happiest moment of my life was that Super Bowl victory. All of the pain and humiliation of living within the borders of the raider nation and the arrogance and cruelty of 49er fans ended on one glorious day. Of course, by that time I was no longer in school and couldn't talk smack to all those kids who made fun of me for being unique in my devotion to the Broncos, but oh well. It still felt good and I still felt vindicated in some weird way.
In any case, my old friends that used to give me so much crap for being a Bronco fan no longer give me so much crap. At least not the 55-10 variety and no more jokes about Elway being the biggest Super Bowl loser of all time. Ect ect...crap I heard for YEARS in the 80's and early 90's. All that ended, with one game.
In a weird twist of fate, Super Bowl 32 was to played on January 25, 1998. Two years to the day before the birth of my daughter. The game was hyped up to be all about how great Favre(the love fest spans decades with him) and the Green Bay Packers who were looking to repeat as champions over the laughingstock Denver Broncos, who were still blasted for being losers of four Super Bowls. The other byline of that two weeks leading up to the big game was how Elway played in his previous three Super Bowls. As if previous games were anywhere near an indication of future performances.
John Elway answered the same questions day after day, while the Packers answered the same questions day after day(which were also about Elway and his troubles in the big game as well as the 13 straight Super Bowls won by the NFC). The good thing that came from this was that mainly only the Packers and Elway were being bothered with this frenzy. Most of the Bronco players were being ignored by the media, which I think helped keep this team focused for the long two week wait between the Championship game and the Super Bowl.
The game started exactly like everyone on the planet(many Bronco fans included) expected. Brett Favre came out and drove his team down the field for a touchdown. Then the game changed. The Broncos offense came out onto the field and began to dominate the line. After tying the game up, Brett Favre threw a costly interception that turned into another touchdown by the Broncos offensive juggernaut.
Steve Atwater then came up big with a forced fumble that was recovered by Neil Smith, but with Terrell Davis out of the game with a migraine the Broncos juggernaut became a pop warner juggernaut and they went nowhere. However, with a field goal the lead was increased 17-7. However, Favre and the Packers finished out the half with a 17 play, 95 yard masterpiece that ended in a touchdown pass to tight end Mark Chimura.
The third quarter was mostly unremarkable to me, as the Packers tied the game up at 17 with a field goal. Both defenses seemed to have come alive to start the second half, but once again it would be the Broncos offense that would break the deadlock. Pinned at their own 8 yard line, Elway and the Broncos marched down the field with a 13 play drive. The drive was highlighted by a 36 yard pass to Eddie McCaffrey and a third down run by John Elway that would be the defining moment of the Super Bowl. Elway was hit by three Packers at the first down marker and was spun around like a helicopter before landing well ahead of the first down. The play energized the Broncos and their fans. The Broncos would take the lead 24-17 going into the fourth quarter.
After Elway and the Broncos failed to capitalize on the fumble by Antonio Freeman, Favre and Freeman connected three times to score a quick touchdown in just under a minute and half to tie the game up at 24. Nothing changed until the Broncos go the ball on the Packers 49 yard line with three and a half minutes left in the game. Nothing would stop the Broncos and they would go up 31-24 with just under two minutes left. Much to the chagrin of Bronco fans everywhere, the Packers quickly drove down the field to the Bronco 35 yard line. After two incompletions, they were faced with a fourth down a six. A poor pass to Chimura would be deflected by John Mobley and nearly every Bronco fan on the planet went nuts.
For nearly forty years, the organization that had once been the doormat for two leagues(first the AFL, then the NFL) toiled endlessly to be recognized as elite. They fought and clawed their way to four Super Bowls that were all but catastrophic for the team's image on the American psyche. All that vanished after that victory. Then to go on to become only the sixth team in NFL history to repeat as Super Bowl Champions solidified the Broncos organization at the top echelon of the NFL. Never again will the Broncos be a laughingstock.