The Denver Broncos this year will face the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football League’s London international game.
However, for those who have not watched the Broncos as long as others may have, this is not Denver’s first foray into international waters representing the NFL and the Mile High City.
In fact, this will be the eighth international game played by the Broncos.
When the NFL was first developing its international posture, both in play and in marketing, the league scheduled as many as two or three games annually played outside our borders.
This was a time when the Broncos had arguably the greatest quarterback in football with John Elway calling the signals, and thus from 1987 through 1999 the Broncos were asked to play in seven American Bowl games.
Denver finished the series with a 3-4 record in those games, all preseason contests. Denver played in the American Bowl in 1987 (London), 1990 (Tokyo), 1992 (Berlin), 1994 (Barcelona), 1995 (a return visit to Tokyo), 1997 (Mexico City) and finally 1999 in Sydney.
The big difference this year is that the game is a regular season contest (one of the 49ers’ home games, so Bronco fans still have eight home regular season games).
If your team is not in the game you tend to pay a bit less attention, so it is understandable if the average Bronco fan has not watched the more recent games, but these London regular season contests have all been sold out, with sellouts coming early in the process of ticket availability.
As the old American Bowl series ran its course it always had great support but as fans became more educated to American football they knew that there is a big difference between a preseason game and a regular season matchup, so the response to what the NFL does not has been overwhelming.
It’s a big honor to the team. Lots of details are yet to be finalized for that game, but with the Broncos having the longest active consecutive Monday Night Football streak, as well as having been selected for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas games, this is just the latest example of the national prominence which the Broncos have, and of the resulting exposure that the Mile High City and the Rocky Mountain time zone get from the team.
It’s a win-win for everyone, and that of course will be the players’ goal when they line up in London on October 31.