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Twenty years ago today was the greatest day in Broncos history

There have been many amazing ones, but the day the Broncos won their first Super Bowl was the day Broncos fans finally got to celebrate.

Super Bowl XXXII - Green Bay Packers v Denver Broncos

January 25, 1998.

The greatest day in any Broncos’ fan’s life.

There are, of course, many other more important (probably?) milestones in our personal lives that we never, ever forget - our wedding days, when our first children were born, when our dogs died ... you know the ones.

But there is something about that one moment in Super Bowl XXXII - that sliver of time between Brett Favre taking the snap, feeling the blitz and throwing across the middle, only to have John Mobley knock down the ball, as well as any hopes of a last-second comeback - that every Broncos fan watching can remember exactly, even 20 years later, how they felt for those four seconds.

And how they’ve felt for 20 years since.

To those of us watching the game, that final 4-second fourth down felt like an eternity. And truth be told, in many of us there was likely a hint of doubt trying not to show itself as we clung to the hope that this was our year.

Because we had been there before. We had had victory snatched from us four times before. But those games had been over by the third quarters. This year we were in it. And we had all the pieces - GOAT quarterback, GOAT running back, aggressive defense, solid kicker.

But we carried with us decades-worth of “loser” baggage that we didn’t want to believe but couldn’t quite shake from our image.

So we paced and prayed and asked the universe to please let us have this one. After all, we had suffered enough, hadn’t we? We had paid our dues and now we had done it. We had played a competitive game and we were in the lead. There couldn’t be a miracle pass from Favre, could there? That just wouldn’t be right.

Thankfully the football gods agreed, and every Broncos fan that day felt the redemption of four previous Super Bowl losses.

The simultaneous exhilaration and relief that came flooding in after four hours of intense emotional highs and lows was beyond a milestone and more than just a football game.

It was reclamation.

It was justification.

It was ...

Well, it was almost indescribable. It was the kind of feeling that only another Broncos fan watching that game - and living through that moment - could understand.

Although the elation of winning Super Bowl 50 - especially after the embarrassment of Super Bowl 48 - was magnificent, it was nothing compared to this moment.

This moment made us jump five feet off the ground in elation but simultaneously brought us to our knees in weeping joy.

If my recollection of this day and this moment seems a tad overplayed for just a game, forgive me.

But just so we’re clear, I will never think of it as “just a game.”

How did you feel the moment you knew Broncos had won?

No matter your story from that day, it’s a great one. As a staff we culled some of our stories, and we’d love to hear yours as well.

Tim Lynch

I grew up in California, so all through the 1980s as a kid I was teased for being a Denver Broncos fan - mostly by Raiders fans. But after the 1989 Super Bowl debacle, the San Francisco 49ers fans began to chime in. A kid being a fan of the Broncos in northern California was like having a giant “kick me” sign permanently taped on my back.

Of course, it didn’t help that I went to school most days decked out in the orange and blue. Why? Because fuck that noise. I’m a damn Broncomaniac. So when John Elway and Terrell Davis pounded the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl 32 - never trailing - I shot to the moon. All of that teasing. All of that ridicule. HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW!?

Of course, I had graduated by then and knew very few people from high school having moved to San Diego. But still, I felt vindicated as a fan and that’s all that really matters. That day was one of the greatest days of my life up to that point.

Two years later, on January 25, 2000, my oldest daughter was born. Now ain’t that a mother of all coincidences. She turns 18 today and I am very proud of the young woman she is growing into. Life is good today.

Taylor Kothe

It’s not a moment during the game that stands out most in my memory of watching Super Bowl XXXII live. I was just 7 and didn’t understand much about the game beyond winning and losing.

What I remember most is that I was sitting beside my dad to watch it, and celebrating with him. That, and the expression on John Elway’s face when the cameras turned to him as it became clear that the game was over and the Broncos had finally won. I’d never seen anyone look happier.

Looking back at the game now, it’s great to remember that and plays like Steve Atwater’s monster hit just before John Mobley made his play. I’m sure I’d seen football before then at some point, but for me Super Bowl XXXII will always stand as the first memories I have of football, and as the day I became a Broncos fan.

Adam Malnati

Super Bowl XXXII was a terrifying proposition. There is no moment more engrained in my mind from that game than the infamous Elway Helicopter play. That, along with John Mobley knocking down that fourth down pass, effectively ending the game, will be the go to response for many. However, for me it was the moment.

Sitting in my uncle’s basement with my dad and his mom and just seeing the relief. I had lived through three of the Broncos 4 Super Bowl losses, but they had been there since the beginning. There was no excitement in the build up. No joy. Just fear of another loss. And when the game seemed to be nearing the end, and it looked like Denver was going to win I said, “there’s too much time!” That has become a family mantra, but it brings out joy, now. Of course, with the win came that long awaited joy and elation. Finally!

Ian St. Clair

The moment John Mobley knocked down that pass, I leapt out of my seat in the living room and let out a primal scream from my gut. That teenage boy couldn’t stop smiling. Yet in the same instance tears were streaming down my cheeks. It was incredible. It was emotional. It was a dream somehow made into reality. Those three gut-punching Super Bowl losses I lived through now stung a little less after a Super Bowl win. They still do.

But the moment that sticks with me most is when I looked at my mom, who also was stunned with disbelief. Growing up as a Colorado native, like most Broncos fans, she had doubts she would ever see such a day. It was surreal. She didn’t believe it. She couldn’t. The Broncos finally did it. It made her think of her father, whom she would have given anything to experience that moment with. He wouldn’t believe it either but would have enjoyed every second of his favorite team finally winning a Super Bowl.

Twenty years later, I still get chills. I still get emotional.