Eventually, this highlight film becomes a paean to the Dallas Cowboys, but for the first 16 minutes of the 23-minute piece, two subjects dominate the work, and neither is the winning team.
The first, and most dear to hearts of most of you visiting this site, is of course, an ode to the Broncos’ rapid turnaround and its impact on the emotional state of its fans, who’d never before experienced anything resembling the ride the Broncos took them on during a 12-2 regular season that temporarily displaced 1970s AFC kingpins Pittsburgh and Oakland at the top of the conference’s heap. “After 18 years, the loyal, long-suffering fans of the Denver Broncos finally had something to cheer about,” Facenda intones,
Eighteen years. Seems like a good while, although partisans of the Chicago Cubs, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues might disagree.
After it explains the origins of the Broncos’ rise and the exuberance they showed upon reaching the NFL’s summit, the film focuses on the mistakes — and there were plenty of them — eight Broncos turnovers, five of which came on consecutive possessions to close the first half. “It was fiercely fought, but frightfully flawed,” Facenda intones. (It took several takes for him to get that one right, a later NFL Films piece would cheerfully reveal.)
There were obviously plenty of other Super Bowl highlight films of the 1970s to focus on the Cowboys; this was the Broncos’ show.
Curiously, however, we do not hear longtime radio voices Bob Martin and Larry Zimmer here; Films opts for the Dallas playcall from Verne Lundquist — coincidentally now a Steamboat Springs resident — and Brad Sham. Maybe they just wanted to give a little balance to the Cowboys in what is mostly a Bronco-centric film. Even as the Cowboys’ victory is feted, numerous shots of despondent Broncos players and fans are shown, with Facenda reading a quote from Ring of Fame kicker Jim Turner: “We were out there thinking about winning, and they were out there thinking about football.” The focus on the Broncos is appropriate, and with every passing year that the Broncos remain a contender and every season they avoid diving into the repository of rebuilding, the accomplishment of the ’77 team becomes more significant. It brought the Broncos out of the muck from whence they came. Three decades later, they have yet to return.
BEST NARRATION: “It began in the autumn of 1977 in Denver, Colorado. It was a fever that raged throughout the Rocky Mountains, leaving all of its victims colored a resplendent orange. They called it Broncomania.”
Much of the music may be of its time, but some of it is also classic, and all of it seems to work. This is not a mellow film; it is dramatic and emotional — much like the game itself.