I thought it might be fun to have a series of blogs (and, since it’s my blog, whatever I think might be fun seems pretty likely to find its way into print) on Broncos by the numbers.
The team has just completed 50 years of play, a milestone in any franchise history, and over that time a lot of players have made contributions, large and small, to what the Broncos are. It’s like family members, some more accomplished than others but when you are in a family, you are in for keeps. So too for the Broncos. Once a Broncos, always a Bronco.
Those players have worn a lot of numbers over the years, and we are going to take a look, over time, at various uniform numbers.
Now that the final Denver Broncos active roster and practice squads are set, seven 2010 players have changed numbers from those which they wore in preseason.
One of those is cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson, who now is in 22. He is the 17th Bronco to wear 22, and due to the high profile nature of the number, there have been some notables who made their name in that numeral.
Bob Stransky, a CU product at running back, wore the number in the inaugural 1960 season, but the highest profile number 22 in the 1960′s was Fran Lynch, who wore it at running back from 1967-76. Fran was Floyd Little’s roommate for the entire of the Hall of Famer’s pro career. While Floyd’s presence kept Fran from getting a lot of carries, Lynch was a fine special teams player and established a Denver first-the first Bronco to play 10 consecutive seasons as a member of this franchise. Fran Lynch still lives in Denver and is active in alumni affairs for the team. He was one of the contingent of Broncos who traveled to Canton to honor Floyd this summer.
Wyoming cornerback Aaron Kyle wore 22 from 1980-82, and staying with the defensive backfield theme, Tony Lilly was a safety here from 1984-87, which of course included participation in two Super Bowls for the Broncos.
In the 1990′s, Alton Montgomery had the number as a cornerback from 1990-93, and Stanford star running back/kick returner Glyn Milburn wore it from 1993-95. A fan from the ’90′s might recall seeing Milburn set the all-time pro football record, which still stands, of 404 combined yards (rushing/receiving/returns) in one game. He posted that staggering total against the Seattle Seahawks on December 12, 1995, rushing for 131, catching passes for 45 and returning kicks for a prodigious total of 228 yards.
Vaughn Hebron wore 22 on the Broncos’ Super Bowl teams of 1997 and 1998, returning kicks and providing a nice security blanket as a reserve running back for the team. Vaughn returned a kickoff for a touchdown at Miami in 1998.
Quentin Griffin (called “Q” by his teammates) was a diminutive tailback from the University of Oklahoma who played here in 2003-04.
Another fan favorite was Domonique Foxworth, now with the Ravens and out for the season in 2010 due to a training camp injury. A first class guy who was one of the team’s leading community contributors in his three-year time in Denver (2005-07), he was immediately followed by another fan favorite, running back Peyton Hillis, who was a reserve ball carrier in Denver the past two years.
But Syd’Quan Thompson brings his own presence to the number, and fans caught on real quick to his exciting style of playmaking. This is not new for Syd’Quan, who was a two-time All Pac-10 conference selection while attending the University of California. While at Cal Thompson had the remarkable accomplishment of starting all 52 possible games for the Golden Bears during his four years there, breaking up a school record 36 passes in addition to picking off seven opponent passes.
One thing about uniform numbers and history in the world of sport. The uniform numbers get reassigned, and history is remade every year.