Broncos eye third Super Bowl win to enhance Bowlen's legacy

Wed Feb 3, 2016 2:13pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - When the Denver Broncos first took the field as charter members of the fledgling American Football League in 1960, the rag-tag team's mustard-yellow jerseys, chocolate brown pants and vertically-striped socks were a source of derision.

Unfortunately for the club's small but loyal fan base, the Broncos' on-field performance matched their comical uniforms, as the team did not post a winning season until 1973, three years after the AFL merged with the National Football League.

Denver will face the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, marking the franchise's record-equaling eighth appearance in the NFL's championship game, tying them with the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Broncos' rise to elite status from their roots as perennial door mats can be attributed in large part to the team's owner since 1984, Pat Bowlen, who relinquished control in 2014 after announcing he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Seven of the team's Super Bowl appearances, among them two NFL titles, have come under the ownership of Bowlen, 71, who created a family trust a decade ago to ensure the team will remain in the hands of one or more of his seven children.

Despite the early losing years when Denver had no other teams in major league professional sports, the Broncos always had a zealous following in the Mile High City, which Bowlen always understood, according to Jim Saccomano, the club’s former longtime director of communications.

"The Broncos are the state religion in Colorado and are the soul of the city," said Saccomano, who has written two books about the team's colorful history.

The Broncos have sold out every home game since the 1970 merger, thousands are on a waiting list for season tickets and Forbes Magazine lists Denver as the league's 11th most valuable franchise, worth an estimated $1.94 billion.   Continued...

Feb 3, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA;  Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak addresses the media at press conference prior to Super Bowl 50 at Santa Clara Marriott.  Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports