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The 1960 Denver Broncos started strong and then were finished

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I(Tim) began writing these posts months ago, but life got kind of busy. My hope was to have all 50 years covered this offseason, but hopefully we can kick off training camp with the first 20 years of Denver Broncos history to chat about. I will have to come back in 2016 with the rest. And another big Mile High Salute, Mike.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos of the year 1960 were the team of many "firsts". They recorded the first victory in AFL History, by beating the Boston Patriots on Friday, September 9, 1960. This after losing all five of their preseason games by an incredible margin of 200-43.

We have covered the other many AFL firsts in years past, but to sum them up they are as follows:

  • The first play from scrimmage was a 5-yard run from the Denver 17-yard line to the 22-yard line by Broncos' running back Al Carmichael.
  • The first first down of league history was made by the Broncos on a 15-yard run by Dan Riley on a pitchout to the right side.
  • The first AFL punt was by Denver's George Herring. It traveled 26 yards from the Broncos' 45-yard line to the Boston 29-yard line.
  • The first AFL penalty was an offsides call against the Broncos that nullified an incomplete pass by Boston.
  • The first pass in AFL history was a pass from Patriots' quarterback Butch Songin to running back Walt Livingston. It came on a 2nd-and-11 from the Boston 38-yard line and fell incomplete.
  • The first AFL score was a 35-yard field goal by Boston's Gino Cappelletti.
  • The first AFL touchdown came on a 59-yard pass from Broncos' quarterback Frank Tripucka to Al Carmichael.
  • The Denver Broncos had the first African-American professional football placekicker in Gene Mingo.

The good times didn’t last, however, as the preseason frighten reared its ugly head by Week 7 as the Broncos closed out the season 4-9-1 after starting the season 4-2. This would certainly be a harbinger of things to come as the 1960s were not a kind decade to this fledgling franchise.

There is an interesting footnote to the Broncos first season: starting quarterback Frank Tripucka had been brought in by head coach Frank Filchock to serve on his staff as an assistant coach. As the story goes, the two players vying for the starting position were playing so terribly in a scrimmage in front of spectators that Filchock had Tripucka don a uniform and enter the game. He played well, thrilled the crowd and was quickly named the Broncos’ starting quarterback.

1960 Preseason
DATE ATTENDANCE SCORE OPPONENT GAME SITE
Aug. 5 4,706 L 43-6 Boston Patriots Providence, R.I.
Aug. 13 6,200 L 31-14 Buffalo Bills Rochester, New York
Aug. 20 19,500 L 42-3 Houston Oilers Jeppesen Stadium
Aug. 27 5,500 L 48-0 Dallas Texans Little Rock, Arkansas
Sept. 3 21,516 L 36-30 Los Angeles Chargers Los Angeles Coliseum
1960 Regular Season
Sept. 9 21,597 W 13-10 Boston Patriots Boston University Field
Sept. 18 15,229 W 27-21 Buffalo Bills War Memorial Stadium
Sept. 23 20,462 L 28-24 New York Titans Polo Grounds
Oct. 2 18,372 W 31-14 Oakland Raiders Bears Stadium
Oct. 16 19,141 L 23-19 Los Angeles Chargers Bears Stadium
Oct. 23 12,683 W 31-24 Boston Patriots Bears Stadium
Oct. 30 13,002 L 17-14 Dallas Texans Bears Stadium
Nov. 6 14,489 L 45-25 Houston Oilers Bears Stadium
Nov. 13 21,000 L 34-7 Dallas Texans Cotton Bowl
Nov. 20 20,778 L 20-10 Houston Oilers Jeppesen Stadium
Nov. 27 7,785 T 38-38 Buffalo Bills Bears Stadium
Dec. 4 5,861 L 30-27 New York Titans Bears Stadium
Dec. 10 9,928 L 41-33 Los Angeles Chargers Los Angeles Coliseum
Dec. 16 7,000 L 48-10 Oakland Raiders Kezar Stadium

MHR MVP of 1960

This honor easily goes to Lionel Taylor who destroyed the AFL in its first year of existence, putting up numbers the league would not see again until the 1990’s. Per Pro Football Reference, he finished the 12 game season with 92 catches for 1235 yards and 12 touchdown receptions as the Broncos only legitimate offensive weapon.

Often triple covered, Frank Tripucka would chuck the ball in his direction anyway as even he knew their only hope for offensive production came from those sticky hands and sturdy body that absorbed more hits than one could imagine.

The story is told that the first time Taylor attended a Broncos’ practice he was appalled by the lack of any form of organized practicing, something which he became a prime mover in correcting.

1960 would start a short, yet explosive, career that should have landed Taylor in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Alas, he was a Bronco, so he must settle for the Ring of Fame instead.

Who gets your MVP?

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