Denver Broncos Super Bowl: The Spirit of '77

Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos
As the Denver Broncos head into a record-tying eighth Super Bowl appearance, Coloradans are settling into a now familiar ritual of big game preparations. But it wasn’t so terribly long ago, in the winter of 1977-78, that the Broncos were prepping for their first visit to professional football’s ultimate event. 
When the 1977 NFL season dawned, the Denver Broncos were hardly anyone’s idea of a potential Super Bowl contender. Despite posting a decent 9-5 record in the 1976 season, they started out ’77 with a new coach, Red Miller, and a new quarterback, Craig Morton. 
Though new to Denver, Morton was hardly new to football. The 33-year-old journeyman had already logged 12 seasons in the league, but was coming off a miserable 2-10 season with the New York Giants. 
The season got off to a promising, if not bombastic, start with a 7-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. While Morton had a respectable game, completing 12 of 20 passes for 145 yards, he threw one interception. The game’s sole touchdown was a 10-yard rush by running back Otis Armstrong. 
From there on out, however, everything seemed to go the Broncos’ way. They proceeded to win 12 of their regular season games and knocked off Pittsburgh and Oakland in the playoffs. 
Seventy-seven was also the year of the vaunted “Orange Crush Defense,” spearheaded by Lyle Alzado, Randy Gradishar and Louis Wright. This fabled orange wall held regular season opponents to a measly 10.5 points per game and became the object of a growing phenomenon known as “Broncomania.”
With each Bronco victory, the team’s popularity grew and by the time they were headed to Super Bowl XII in New Orleans, the Mile High City was in a frenzy. Remember, this was a team that had never even been to the playoffs and had only logged three winning seasons in their entire 16-year history. 
According to longtime Denver Post sports columnist Woody Paige in his book Orange Madness: The Incredible Odyssey of the Denver Denver Broncos, Denverites rallied around the team like they never had before. He recounts empty streets and shopping centers during Broncos games and points out that the Denver Police reported a major drop in crime when the games were on. 
Paige does point out that business at Denver’s legion of massage parlors, which he described as “quasi-legal at the time,” reported an uptick in business after each Denver Broncos victory that season.
The only folks who seemed to see a surge in business during game time, according to Paige, were television repairmen. These hardworking tele-saviors were dispatched to homes to minister to TV sets that had gone out during the game and needed to be back in order forthwith. 
Though the Broncos lost to the Dallas Cowboys 27-10 in Super Bowl XII, the spirit of that ’77 team lives on in the form of Denver’s unwavering devotion to its NFL franchise. Broncos fans have stood with their team through four more losing Super Bowls and two Super victories (and probably one more on Sunday, February 7).
Broncomania, of course, has grown considerably over the years since the team’s first Super Bowl appearance, and their presence in the Mile High City is inescapable. Though plenty of folks put up a pretty good argument that Bronco fandom borders on the extreme, it’s tough to understate the team’s presence in modern-day Denver. 
To learn more about the Denver Broncos, check out the following titles:
Orange Madness: The Incredible Odyssey of the Denver Broncos, Woodrow Paige, Jr. 
Mile High Miracle: Elway and the Broncos – Super Bowl Champions at Last!, Jerry Green
Broncos: From Striped Socks to Super Bowl and Beyond, Bob Collins

Denver NewsPhoto Gallery: 

Denver Broncos

(1613) A fan gets her picture taken with Miles in the third quarter of the Denver Broncos against the Buffalo Bills at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver., Colo., on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008. Th Broncos lost 30-23. (CHRIS SCHNEIDER/ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS) **

(683) Brandon Marshall jumps over Rashad Baker in the first quarter of the Denver Broncos against the Oakland Raiders at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo., on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008. (CHRIS SCHNEIDER/ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS) **

“The Drive”, remembered as one of the defining moments in John Elway’s career, was the 98-yard fourth-quarter drive in the AFC playoff game against the Cleveland Browns Jan. 11, 1986. Denver won the game in overtime after Elway engineered a drive of 9.
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(CANTON, Ohio., SHOT 8/8/2004) As a final tribute to all the Broncos’ fans, John Elway performs one final Mile High Salute Sunday at the end of his Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction speech. John Elway and the three other inductees into the Pro Footba.
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(DENVER, COLO., JANUARY 31, 1987) Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway is sacked by a Whashington Redskins defender during the Super Bowl IN San Diego, Cali., on January 31, 1987. (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS FILE PHOTO BY KEN PAPALEO)
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(SAN DIEGO, CA., January 26, 1988) Broncos quarterback John Elway laughs with head coach Dan Reeves as reporters ask questions at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Deigo during Press Day January 26, 1988, before Super Bowl XXll against the Redskins. (ROCKY MO.
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(SAN DIEGO, CAL., NOVEMBER 11, 1990) Broncos head coach Dan Reeves talks to quarterback John Elway during the game against the San Diego Chargers in San Diego on November 11, 1990. (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS FILE PHOTO BY KEN PAPALEO)
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0498 Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said that this is the toughest decission he has had to make in 25 years during a press conference to discuss Shanahan’s career in the Bronco orginization at Dove Valley in Englewood Colo., Tuesday December 30, 2008.
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7th Heaven Front Page January 26, 1998. Rocky front cover, Met 1. Broncos beat Packers in Super Bowl XXXII to win their first Super Bowl.
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A caravan of fire trucks carry the Denver Broncos south down Broadway to Civic Center Park. A crowd of 375,000 waited to greet the Super Champions for a parade and rally after they returned from winning Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami.
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A man know as Rocky the Leprechaun, left, fires up over one hundred fans before they marched up and down the 16th Street Mall during a Kool 105 Parade to support the Denver Broncos in their game against the New England Patriots Saturday which will be t.
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Broncos “Barrel Man” Tim McKernan, cq, leads over one hundred fans up and down the 16th Street Mall during a Kool 105 Parade to support the Denver Broncos in their game against the New England Patriots Saturday which will be the first play off game at.
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(BG1197} Denver Broncos Barrel Man hangs with a Oakland Raiders fans in the fourth quarter as the Broncos beat the Raiders 17-13 at McAfree Coliseum in Oakland, Ca., Sunday, Nov. 12, 2006. (BARRY GUTIERREZ/ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS) (((NAMES FROM OFFICIAL RO.
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Playing in spite of back pain in the 1977 AFC Champinsihop Game, Denver quarterback Craig Morton led the Broncos to their first Super Bowl berth
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Denver Broncos Super Bowl Spirit