The Denver Broncos, despite having existed for only 55 years, find themselves in a renaissance period entering the 2015 season. What once was old is new again. The band is back together.
After John Elway hired Gary Kubiak to be Broncos head coach, the dominoes began falling, and now we have a reunion of just about every player and coach from the Broncos in the early 1990's as key decision-makers in this franchise. If you were a Broncos water boy in 1991, come on down; there's a spot on Elway's scouting staff for you.
To be honest, at first, I wasn't sold on the Broncos band reunion. I am not sure how a sudden resurgence of 1990s Broncos football would take in the 2010s. Sure, in many ways, that period is the golden age of this franchise. Two Super Bowls and a handful of Hall of Fame players serve as testament to that legacy. But the game has evolved. The zone blocking scheme the Broncos revolutionized reached its league-adoption apex less than a decade later. What once was new is old again.
But as I went about compiling this post and looking at the resumés of all of these reunited Broncos, my hesitance has turned to excitement. This is an impressive group of football minds who have each bled orange and blue at times during their respective careers, and there's something to be said for having employees who care deeply for your organization (and your owner Pat Bowlen).
So here, we celebrate the return of these Broncos players and coaches as they begin their second (or third) tenures with the Denver Broncos Football Club. We wish them many Super Bowls in their new rein.
While the rest of of this celebration will focus on newly hired Broncos who were previously with the team, I'll include and start with the man who has made it all possible.
John Elway, Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager
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Broncos quarterback: 1983-1998
Broncos executive: 2011-current
Years as a Bronco: 20
Even before he was officially the man in charge, Elway was always the man in charge in Denver. He has been the face of the franchise since 1983. Even in the interim period where Elway wasn't involved in the Broncos franchise, following his retirement as a player in 1999 and the beginning of his career as an executive in 2011, Elway remained the face of the franchise, haunting every player who took up the mantle of "Denver Broncos quarterback" as the Rocky Mountain region perpetually looked for its "next John Elway." Just ask Jake Plummer about living in Elway's shadow.
In short, John Elway is Denver Broncos football.
Gary Kubiak, head coach
Broncos quarterback: 1983-91
Broncos offensive coordinator: 1995-2005
Years as a Bronco: 20
In 31 NFL seasons as a player or coach, Kubiak has been part of 17 playoff teams, 12 division titles, eight conference championship games and six Super Bowls. He was a member of three World Championship staffs, winning his first Super Bowl as quarterbacks coach for San Francisco during the 1994 season and serving as offensive coordinator for the Broncos' back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1997 and '98.
During his 21 seasons as an NFL position coach, coordinator or head coach, Kubiak's offenses have ranked in the Top 5 on 12 occasions and placed in the top half of the league 19 times. In that span, he has coached 30 players at 12 different positions to a total of 57 Pro Bowl honors.
Rick Dennison, offensive coordinator
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Broncos linebacker: 1982-90
Broncos asst. coach/offensive coordinator: 1995-2005, '09
Years as a Bronco: 21
A linebacker for the Broncos from 1982-90, Dennison began his coaching tenure with the club in 1995 and held various roles with the team, including offensive assistant (1995-96), special teams coordinator (1997-2000) and offensive line coach(2001-05, '09) in addition to his three years as offensive coordinator (2006-08). Dennison spent four years (2010-13) as Head Coach Gary Kubiak's offensive coordinator in Houston before being hired in Baltimore last season to coach the team's quarterbacks.
Wade Phillips, defensive coordinator
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Broncos defensive coordinator: 1989-92
Broncos head coach: 1993-94
Years as a Bronco: 6
Philips spent his last 31 years in the league as a defensive coordinator or head coach and has led 15 different top-10 defenses in that time. He began his tenure in Denver as defensive coordinator in 1989 and led the Broncos to a No. 3 overall defensive ranking (274.5 ypg) that season as the club made a Super Bowl appearance. During his four seasons in that role, Phillips coached Pro Bowl safety Steve Atwater, linebacker Michael Brooks, defensive tackle Greg Kragen, linebacker Karl Mecklenburg and safety Dennis Smith.
Joe DeCamillis, special teams coordinator
Broncos employee (football administration): 1988-89
Broncos defensive quality control coach: 1990-91
Years as a Bronco: 4
DeCamillis began his NFL career with Denver in 1988, spending two years in football administration before becoming a defensive quality control coach for the Broncos from 1990-91 and is a Colorado native (born in Arvada, Colo.). DeCamillis is entering his 27th NFL season, having coached special teams for 22 years, most recently with the Chicago Bears from 2013-14
Brian Pariani, tight ends coach
Broncos tight ends coach: 1995-2004
Years as a Bronco: 10
Prior to spending the 2005 season as offensive coordinator at Syracuse University, Pariani coached Denver's tight ends for 10 seasons (1995-2004) and was a member of Denver's 1997 and '98 Super Bowl Championship teams. Under Pariani's instruction, Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe was named to three consecutive All-Pro teams (1996-98) by the Associated Press and tight end Dwayne Carswell earned a Pro Bowl invitation (2001).