The 1961 Denver Broncos left off right where the 1960 Broncos finished. Ever vigilant, they won their first game again in this season, but then would go on to lose 11 of their final 13 games to finish 3-11.
They did pick up a win over the Oakland Raiders in the preseason 48-21 in Spokane, Washington of all places. To show how terribly organized the AFL was back in the early days, the Broncos actually played six of their seven home games in just seven weeks. Fortunately, they won two of those six home games.
It is not surprising that the Broncos struggled early on. The American Football League’s first ever competitive draft was held in 1961. They went up against not only each of the other AFL teams but the established teams of the National Football League as well. Only two of the thirty players drafted by the Broncos in the 1961 AFL Draft made the team’s 1961 roster. Many players opted to sign with NFL teams rather than try their luck in the fledgling AFL. The two players who did make the cut were Dale Evans (5 games, no stats) and Phil Nugent (12 games, 7 interceptions).
These rough times only got rougher as the city of Denver hadn’t yet caught Orange Fever. Although, Lionel Taylor was certainly catching on with the few locals who had taken up football as their new national pastime.
|Aug. 12||10,000||L 31-13||Dallas Texans||Midland, Texas|
|Aug. 19||6,500||W 48-21||Oakland Raiders||Spokane, Washington|
|Aug. 25||21,710||L 29-27||Dallas Texans||Fort Worth, Texas|
|Sept. 1||10,087||L 42-10||Houston Oilers||Mobile, Alabama|
|Sept. 4||6,300||L 49-12||Oakland Raiders||Candlestick Park|
1961 Regular Season
|Sept. 10||16,636||W 22-10||Buffalo Bills||War Memorial Stadium|
|Sept. 16||14,479||L 45-17||Boston Patriots||Boston University Field|
|Sept. 24||14,381||L 35-28||New York Titans||Polo Grounds|
|Oct. 1||8,361||L 33-19||Oakland Raiders||Candlestick Park|
|Oct. 8||14,500||L 19-12||Dallas Texans||Bears Stadium|
|Oct. 15||11,129||W 27-24||Oakland Raiders||Bears Stadium|
|Oct. 22||12,508||W 27-10||New York Titans||Bears Stadium|
|Oct. 29||32,584||L 37-0||San Diego Chargers||Balboa Stadium|
|Nov. 5||11,564||L 55-14||Houston Oilers||Bears Stadium|
|Nov. 12||7,859||L 19-16||San Diego Chargers||Bears Stadium|
|Nov. 19||7,645||L 23-10||Buffalo Bills||Bears Stadium|
|Nov. 26||27,874||L 45-14||Houston Oilers||Jeppesen Stadium|
|Dec. 3||9,303||L 28-24||Boston Patriots||Bears Stadium|
MHR MVP of 1961
Once again, Lionel Taylor is the only true superstar playing for the Denver Broncos. He would average nearly 10 catches a game with 100 total for 1176 yards and four touchdowns. Opposing defenses had finally caught on to Taylor’s explosiveness and the rest of the Broncos rather void talent level. Yet, Taylor continues to dominate the AFL like no other.
Losing is hard, but it's made easier when a player or two plays their butt off despite the sustained losing efforts. Taylor is a Hall of Fame player in my book.
Who gets your MVP?