Good morning/ afternoon/ evening.
Growing up in Pueblo in the 1960's, my parents were not football fans, or really sports fans at all. One close friend was a Johnny U and Colts fan, another was a Green Bay fan. Our Sundays were usually spent working in the yard after Church. I was 9 years old when one Sunday my dad left for some reason and being tired of listening to his KPUB radio I moved the dial around until I heard a large crowd cheering someone called "the Magician" and stayed there for the game. I became a radio fan, but just a lukewarm one.
A year or two later I saw a Denver Broncos vs New York Jets game was on. I wanted to watch Joe Namath, but became a HUGE fan of a guy named Rich "Tombstone" Jackson who was eating everyone alive and Joe Namath was out the window. I heard on the radio how good Tombstone was, but OMG on tv he was a true beast. I literally hated Lou Saban when he traded "the Magician" so I almost did not watch that game. But as good as Tombstone was, the team sucked and I always will blame Lou. He did help a lot, but not the team. He TRADED Curley Culp for a 4th round pick! He wanted the now HOF DLineman to switch to RG, where he had a future All-Pro for the Cardinals in Bob Young entrenched. Lou traded him away also. Us old timers can only imagine Duranko, Costa, Culp and Tombstone as a front 4.
It all came forth when John Ralston traded for Charley Johnson and traded away Bobby Anderson to make way for Joe Dawkins at FB in 1972. Tombstone was traded away after beginning a comeback from a knee injury in 1971. I was so PO'd at Ralston, but wait a minute. An offense that was actually somewhat offensive! This cannot be the Broncos I know. If only Riley Odoms and Billy Masters had help catching the ball, say, from a WR? Jerry Simmons and Rod Sherman? Better than anything under Lou, but at least the loveable losers were fighting. Maybe there is hope?
Holy what the heck is happening, Batman! The Broncos are doing what? Fighting for a playoff spot? What?
It was when I was 14 or 15 that Lyle Alzado came to town to open The Lyle Alzado home for kids that I met my first Broncos player. Wow! That guy was big as I remember, a real sweetheart, but, as my mom would say "you can see it on his face and in his eyes" that he loved the kids, but was a bit, to quote my mom "off". But I did not care, I met a real Pro Football player, a Broncos player and that was it. My brother and I were playing in the school leagues, and the biggest Broncos fan was being created in our house. Mom.
The 1977 season was it! Broncomania and a tilt in the axis of the world that will never happen again. An aging, near the end of the road QB who had been to the big game before and lost, thrown on the scrap heap that had Broncos fans moaning in pain when he was acquired. An OL that had a end of the road but he's all we have at OC, a LT that was a very bad RG and picked off waivers, a 235 lb LG, no run game whatsoever and yet they made it! The Orange Crush, Haven Moses, Riley Odoms, Rick Upchurch and a QB named Craig Morton who was so battered and beaten, literally before the game. But, what if they recovered the fumble on the 9 on Dallas' first play? What if the refs called it right on Tony Hill's fumble on the 1?
So what if they lost? They knocked on the door of the big boys and then kicked it in and have stayed there ever since.
How many losing seasons since 1972?
First starting black QB? First black K? First deaf player? Scored first AFL TD? Lionel Taylor anyone? Meanest headslap? Deacon Jones never ended a LT's career like Tombstone did to Sherman Plunkett.
Why am I a Broncos fan? They got better with age like me.