As General Manager George Paton gets closer to putting a new head coach into place, every member of Broncos Country fervently hopes this helps drive us back into championship contention.
But meanwhile, looking at the calendar, one notices that Jan. 25 is coming up soon, and it was on that date in 1998 that the Broncos won Super Bowl XXXII over the Green Bay Packers.
The stats from that game are firmly cemented in Broncos history and lore, with Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis scoring three touchdowns on his way to Most Valuable Player honors.
But some other memories come into my mind, some of them small, but all part of the tapestry of that great win.
We entered the game as 11-point underdogs, with the upset win being one of the greatest Super Bowl wins against the spread.
Watching the team prepare for that game, the players and coaches — and even the public relations director — had great confidence in a Denver win.
In fact, when someone from the league office asked me if we thought we had much of a chance against the Green Bay Packers, I replied, “We will go through the Packers like grain through a goose.”
We were really confident and well prepared by head coach Mike Shanahan. Shanahan had guard Mark Schlereth bring in his Super Bowl ring from Washington and talk to the team at one of the meetings, with Schlereth passionately saying, “This is why we play.”
Shanahan noted to the team that we had already won in Kansas City and Pittsburgh, two notoriously difficult places to play, especially in the postseason. Then Mike added, “This game is in San Diego, which is never neutral because of all the Bronco fans. We love San Diego, and we always win in that stadium, right?”
Right. But of course Mike did not mention that usually we were up against the Chargers in that stadium, not the mighty Packers.
The emotional die was cast, and the Packers had little awareness of what they would be facing.
During the week I set up Davis to talk to a student assembly at San Diego’s Lincoln High School, his alma mater. Little did anyone realize that he was about to become the first Super Bowl MVP to win the honor in his hometown or that Lincoln High School would boast two Super Bowl MVPs and Hall of Fame running backs, Davis and Marcus Allen.
During the game itself, I sat in press box next to Jack Elway. John’s father was the team’s director of pro scouting at the time and worked for the team for seven seasons.
As we watched the game develop, neither of us mentioned the way the Broncos or his son were playing, which was very, very good.
Jack was quiet, but he was beaming. And the look on his face when John hurled himself into the Packers for his now famous “helicopter” first down was equal parts euphoric joy and fatherly satisfaction.
Jack had once said to his wife during one of John’s high-school games, “Sometimes I think this kid is even better than I want him to be!”
John was all of that on Jan. 25, 1998 in San Diego.
After game, well after all the dust had settled, I saw my counterparts from Green Bay.
That had the look of people who had no idea what had just happened to them, and that it certainly was nothing they expected.
But Broncos Country knew.
And time goes on. The players retired, the stadium was torn down, but that first world championship will never be forgotten.