I invested a couple of hours in Broncos: The Complete History on Tuesday afternoon.
Consider it time well spent — and worth the $19.95 purchase for a Broncos fan in your life as the holidays approach, which for the narcissistic among you, could be what Alvin of the Chimpunks once spoke of: “A present — from me to me!”
The centerpiece is the documentary on Broncos history. To click “play” is to instantly transmogrify into old-school mode, with the old “D” logo used until 1996 superimposed over a shot of Mile High Stadium. Shots of Lionel Taylor, Floyd Little, Lou Saban and Marlin Briscoe flash on the screen. Saban’s famed exhortation — “They’re killing me, Whitey (Dovell), they’re killing me!” — is next. Images of Lyle Alzado, Rich “Tombstone” Jackson sacking Daryle Lamonica, Tom Jackson, Randy Gradishar and Haven Moses follow.
And all that is before the name “John Elway” is mentioned.
If you are a Broncos fan of age 35 or younger, you don’t remember the frustrating days of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the Broncos’ performance did not come close to matching the ebullient support from the stands. If you haven’t yet hit your 45th birthday, you can’t recall the vertically-striped socks, the mustard-and-brown uniforms, and the whirling dervish of a receiver that was Ring of Famer Lionel Taylor.
In those cases, buy this DVD and see it for yourself — to see some images and hear the tales of the Broncos in the days before consistent sellouts, season-ticket waiting lists and consistent winning seasons.
It’s a treat to witness footage of the first-ever Broncos game against the Boston Patriots at Boston University Field in September 1960. The former home of the Boston Braves — then known, appropriately enough, as Braves Field — looks more like a high-school stadium, with the grainy, black-and-white footage and the light standards obstructing the camera’s view.
You’ll see Bears Stadium and its gradual transition into an intimidating 75,000-seat edifice, and interviews with numerous figures from Broncos history, including founding owner Bob Howsam, Ring of Famers Frank Tripucka, Floyd Little, Haven Moses, Tom Jackson, John Elway and Karl Mecklenburg, coaches Lou Saban, Red Miller, John Ralston and Mike Shanahan, and others such as longtime Denver sports columnist Woody Paige, former radio announcer (and current CU analyst) Larry Zimmer, and other players such as Marlin Briscoe, Rick Upchurch, Gary Kubiak and Rod Smith.
Briscoe’s memorable 1968 season is chronicled in the piece, as well as the “Hot Dogs” scoreboard incident of 1969, the “half-a-loaf” game of 1971, the touchstone Monday Night Football tie with Oakland in 1973, and, of course, the 1977 season and the memorable experiences in the decades that followed: “The Drive” and “The Drive II,” the Super Bowl wins, last January’s dethroning of the Patriots’ back-to-back Super Bowl dynasty, and more.
Just just as enjoyable are the bonus features NFL Films culled to help fill out some 373 minutes of content on the discs. Of particular enjoyment was In Their Own Words: John Lynch, which was originally produced for NFL Network last year.
If you want to skip past the chronicle of his days with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you can, but make sure you watch the final segment of the piece, which focuses on his return to Tampa Bay with the Broncos for an Oct. 3, 2004 game.
Never have I covered a team sporting event where the buildup to it — and then the actual contest itself — focused so heavily around one person as that day’s game revolved around Lynch. He was everywhere that day, making key stops of Mike Alstott, deflecting a pass as time ran out, and even standing at the epicenter of a controversial play where he tagged Tampa Bay’s Michael Clayton for fear he would incur a penalty. (Lynch wore a microphone, and his animated discussion with referee Walt Coleman is replayed here.)
It’s an enjoyable memento of one of the more memorable games in recent Broncos history … and just one of many gems that lie within the two-DVD set.
Other thoughts from the players’ off-day:
- In addition to Sam Brandon going on injured reserve, rookie wide receiver Domenik Hixon will take the practice field Wednesday for the first time as a Bronco. He has been on the reserve/non-football-injury list since the start of the season as he continues to recover from a foot injury suffered during a pre-draft workout. Hixon watched from the sidelines throughout the offseason camps and again during training camp as the injury continued to heal. The Broncos have a three-week window to determine whether to activate him to the 53-man roster or put him back on the reserve squad for the remainder of the regular season.
- Peter King taps Champ Bailey as his Defensive Player of the Year at the season’s halfway point.
- When two Carnegie-Mellon University students traipsed unlawfully into Heinz Field early Sunday morning, it was not terrorism, evidently. “This appears to be two kids who did something stupid,” said FBI special agent Jeff Killeen. Funny, when I think of “something stupid,” I think of Sinatra — or Sideshow Bob and Aunt Selma.
- As of right now, Jake Plummer trails in the FedEx Air Player of the Week balloting with 22 percent of the vote, 51 percentage points behind New Orleans passer Drew Brees.