Recently, my sweet mother surprised me with a couple of coins from her purse. Those of us who grew up in the days of pizza parlor arcades all know that when mom roots around in her purse for change, it was never a bad thing. Instead of quarters for Gyruss or Double Dragon, my mom handed me something I'd never seen before. She had found these while cleaning out some old boxes...
These, my friends, are original issue Broncos bucks. Printed with the schedule on one side, they had to be a hot commodity of their time. I guess. I'm going to level with you. There isn't much information on these out there. Near as I can tell, they were issued over a seven year period by First Bank of Denver from 1975 - 1982. With all the bank consolidation that has happened over the last forty years, I cant say for sure what became of this bank. For all I know it could be 1st Bank of Colorado now (you know, the one that Broncos radio announcer Dave Logan shills for - "Colorado's bank for yooooou").
Here's what I do know.
1. Outside of these coins, First Bank of Denver was a big sponsor of the Denver Broncos. After nearly an hour of Googling, I was unable to find any of the pictures of the old Mile High Stadium scoreboard with the First of Denver billboard advertisements on it. I swear I've seen a ton of old black and white images displaying this bank's logo.
So a shiny gold star to an old-time Broncos fan who emailed me these pics today. The first was taken before a game featuring the drum corps (no doubt our photographer was in it!) The second is from the Broncos' 1977 playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers that put Denver in the AFC Championship against the Raiders and ultimately led to its first Super Bowl appearance in 1978.
2. These coins were handed out at various bank branches. I'm imagining a wicker basket of sorts perched atop a brown shag carpeted teller counter full of these things for people to take. You know, next to all the ashtrays banks had back in those days... because who should be without the luxury of smoking while reordering checks? It was a silly time, the late 1970s/early 1980s.
3. For whatever reason there is a bucking ram on the front. Nothing says the Orange Crush era of the Broncos quite like a ram... What? Another shiny gold star to anyone who can explain this. Maybe something to do with the bank's logo? Colorado State ties? Who knows...
4. From 1975 to 1979 expectations of the Broncos franchise had changed. You'll notice that there is no mention of the Super Bowl on the earlier coin. 1979? Yup, it was played Jan. 20, 1980. Says so right there on the later one.
5. That's not the only difference between the two coins. On the one from 1975, makes special note of the Monday night game played on December 8th. In 1979, there is no such note regarding the Broncos Monday night matchup against San Diego on December 17th. Mind you the Broncos had largely been ignored (because they were awful) and didn't have their first Monday Night Football game until October of 1973. Needless to say, it was a big deal that Denver was playing on a national stage.
6. Of course, one reason the Monday night game isn't noted is because the NFL added two more games to schedule (in 1978) and there may just be less space on the coin itself.
7. There is no mention of a bye week on the 1979 coin. The NFL didn't add that necessary respite until 1990. Imagine a 16-game season without one? Crazy!
So how much is a Bronco Buck worth? A quick check on ebay turns tells me that they're worth about $8 a pop. Some of the sellers mention them going for more, but they can surely be had for less. At most, they're a collector's item. At least? They're a nifty little merchandising blip in the history of the Denver Broncos.
I wish this could have been your usual Horse Tracks style link-dump, but let's be honest here folks... It's the off season and things have quieted down. Rather than hit you with the same stuff you've been seeing, I went for something different.
A guy has to make a Bronco Buck somehow....(and a girl usually has to rescue him ... see comments for context!)
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