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.
Today we will blog about number “2″.
There have been eight players to wear uniform number “2″ in Denver Broncos history, and we’ll list them before discussing a couple.
They include three quarterbacks (Chris Simms in 2009, Will Furrer in 1994 and Joe DiVito in 1968), two punters (Sam Paulescu in 2007 and Mike Horan from 1986-92), two placekickers (Steve Lindsey in 2000 and Bob Humphreys in 1967-68), and one fullback (Cookie Gilchrist in 1965).
There are some interesting elements to the number “2″ for Denver.
Chris Simms was trying to come back from injury and had a lot of rust on him — fans did not get to see him at anywhere near his peak play. To be fair, Will Furrer and Joe DiVito (not related to the actor who had a stint with The Three Stooges) were backups, and most of the special teams players had nondescript careers.
But that still leaves us with two who were superb players — Mike Horan and Cookie Gilchrist.
Horan wore number two because it is one of those single digit kicker numbers, but no one ever had more grace in Broncos history as a directional punter who could be called upon to put the ball out of bounds inside the 20 or 10. Mike was one of the nicest, most gracious guys we have ever had. He kicked for us in three Super Bowls, and in the year that I represented the Broncos and the AFC in the Pro Bowl ( in the 1989 game following the 1988 season — I had also been selected in 1986 and 1987 but could not go due to us being in the Super Bowl both years — a pretty good reason!!) he was our Pro Bowl punter.
Absolutely nothing but class. Horan had 107 punts inside the 20 in regular season play for the Broncos and was a terrific performer in the postseason games that put Denver in those three Super Bowls during the 1980′s. It is fun just to type his name once again. He was a great number “2.”
Now, as for Cookie, where do I begin? Where does anyone begin? First of all, I did an extensive blog on Cookie Gilchrist earlier, and he was AND IS one of the giants of the game’s lore — not just in Denver, but in pro football overall. In fact, I think where the question is asked, can you write the history of pro football without making mention of a given player, Cookie is one who makes the cut.
If he does not make the cut, you go cut him. I want no part of that.
He actually played for the Broncos twice, but right now we focus on number “2,” which was his 1965 season. He had played for two American Football League championship teams in Buffalo, leading the league in carries twice (232 in 1963 and 230 in 1964), in yards twice (1,096 in 1962 and 981 in 1964) and in rushing touchdowns all three years (13 in 1962, 12 in 1963 and six in 1964 — remember, it was a passing league).
Cookie was a character.
The Broncos had the AFL rookie-of-the-year in 1964, a 250-pound fullback named Billy Joe, and Buffalo had grown weary of Cookie’s requests to get paid like he most likely deserved, so there was a trade-Buffalo got Billy Joe, Denver got Cookie.
Billy Joe had worn number “3″ for Denver, and Cookie never lacked for color. He announced that like in golf, he would go one digit better than the guy for whom he was traded, and announced he would wear number “2.” This was before the uniform number in pro football had been standardized, so it was not a problem.
He showed up at the Broncos’ Colorado School of Mines training camp driving a golf Cadillac, and no car ever matched a player’s personality any better than that. In 1965 Cookie again led the AFL in carries (252, for 954 yards) and in rushing touchdowns once again with six.
I would not describe him as a battering ram type of fullback. More like The Terminator in shoulder pads. A STUD.
The next year the Broncos moved him on to Miami — at that time teams were more reluctant to work with talented players who made demands, and often times they just traded the player.
But he helped immortalize number “2″ in Denver, as did Mike Horan, even though their personalities could not have been more opposite from each other.