|10-24-2007, 06:30 AM||#1|
Join Date: Nov 2002
Cool new history book on the Broncos
We would be well served by picking this one up....check it out:
New book tackles Broncos' highs, lows
Excerpt: "Denver Broncos - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 10/24/2007 12:23:53 AM MDT
Editor's note: Adrian Dater may be The Post's longtime hockey expert, but that doesn't mean he can't hit to a few other fields as a sports writer.
Exhibit A is his new book, "Denver Broncos: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," from Triumph Books. As the title says, Dater takes a look at the best, and worst, moments in Broncos history, starting with their hideous first uniforms - which were recently voted the third-worst pro team uniforms in sports history by ESPN.
From the heartbreak of four straight Super Bowl losses to glorious redemption in San Diego in 1998, Dater takes fans on trips back to the team's best and worst times, as told by many of the players who were there.
The chapter excerpted here takes a look back at the team's first two games ever, on the road in Boston and Buffalo, in 1960.
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" by Adrian Dater
The First Two Weeks: This Game is Easy
When the Broncos play these days, whichever TV station carrying the game routinely gets ratings nearing 70-80 percent of the total Denver-viewing audience. Home games are automatic sellouts, and pretty much every daily newspaper in the state sends reporters to cover them.
Prior to the Broncos' first ever game on Sept. 9, 1960, however, you had to look hard in the Denver newspapers for any mention of it. Three days before the game between the Broncos and Boston Patriots - the first not only in Broncos history but that of the American Football League - this was the headline on the third page of The Denver Post's sports section: "Broncos Drill for Loop Debut" - hardly a big buildup.
Post Broncos beat writer Bob Bowie began his short story thusly, with a dateline of Los Angeles: "Denver's wandering Broncos head for the East again this week, but this time play for keeps. Friday night, they have the honor of opening the new American Football League campaign against the Boston Patriots in the Hub City. Coach Frank Filchock is not pleased with the prospects of the long haul to Boston, but he's grooming for it, nonetheless.
"It's going to be a real good league," (Filchock) said, "and we'll be allright (sic), too."
The first Broncos team had training camp in Pomona, Calif., and went 0-5 in the preseason, including a 43-6 loss to the Patriots - coached by a man who would walk the Mile High Stadium sidelines a few years later, Lou Saban. The preseason loss to the Patriots was the first game of any kind the Broncos ever played, on Aug. 5.
The first AFL game was played at Boston University, later named Nickerson Field. A stiff breeze greeted the players, as did 21,597 paying fans. The Patriots were installed as 16-point favorites by the wise guys in Las Vegas. The Broncos began the week in Pomona, stopped in Denver for a Wednesday practice at Bears Stadium, then flew to Boston later that night. The Patriots had been home all week, waiting for their vertically-strip-socked opponents.
The Broncos got in late to Boston, sleeping much of the Thursday away, and bused over to the small, primitive college football field to make history. The massacre that many thought would happen to the Broncos in Boston didn't; Denver, on the strength of a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter by Gene Mingo, beat the Patriots 13-10.
"Johnny Unitas and Big Daddy Lipscomb rose off the sandlots to football immortality with the Baltimore Colts. Friday night Gene Mingo, Denver Bronco halfback, started in that direction as he led the underdog Westerners to a 13-10 upset of the Boston Patriots as the American Football League became a reality after more than a year of planning," Bowie wrote in The Post. "The swift 21-year-old Negro from Akron, Ohio - who never played college football - dazzled 21,597 cash customers."
"I remember the wind that night," Broncos quarterback Frank Tripucka recalled. "That's why I only passed the ball (15 times, completing 10). It was real dark. The lights weren't any good in that place. But I just remember walking into the locker room thinking 'we're 1-0.'" Broncos general manager Dean Griffing exulted in the victory, telling Bowie later that night, "Denver will be in the playoffs."
Austin "Goose" Gonsoulin preserved the victory with a last-minute interception - one of two picks he made against Pats QB Ed Songin. But the real hero was the aforementioned Mingo. He scored the winning touchdown, and kicked the extra point on Denver's first-ever touchdown, a 59-yard pass from Tripucka to receiver Al Carmichael. That, of course, doubled as the AFL TD in league history.
"That's something I'm proud of," Tripucka said. "I remember the pass. It was a little swing pass, and (Carmichael) made the play. But Gene's punt return was what won us the game. It just seemed to come out of nowhere. But it really fired up the boys."
The Broncos did not return to Denver to a hero's welcome. Unlike the modern era - where teams fly back home the night of a game - the Broncos stayed on the east coast in preparation for their second game, in Buffalo. But the team didn't practice in Boston or upstate New York.
Partly to offset costs, they practiced at the high school field on which Tripucka played, in his hometown of Plainfield, N.J.
The Buffalo Bills were not supposed to be a great team, but this was their home opener at War Memorial Stadium, and Denver again entered as an underdog. The team's record when the game was over, however, was 2-0, atop the AFL's Western Division. The Broncos won 27-21, with Gonsoulin emerging with four interceptions against Bills QB Tommy O'Connell. Defensive back Johnny Pyeatt's 40-yard interception return for a touchdown was the winning play.
"We have no one real star on this team - everyone pulls together," Post writer Bowie began his story, with a quote from Filchock. "Coach Frank Filchock's defensive unit turned the tide for the Rocky Mountain boys, much to the dismay of 15,229 patrons in War Memorial Stadium."
About Gonsoulin, Bowie wrote, "The light-fingered, 22-year-old defensive cop, ran his season's total to six with Sunday's thefts."
This game was easy. The Broncos might never lose. Bring on the next victim. That was the mood in the locker room as the team took its act next downstate to face the New York Titans. Despite getting 25 first downs to New York's 17, despite 413 yards of total of Denver offense to 279 for the Titans, New York prevailed 28-24.
New York won in miraculous fashion, blocking a punt by Denver's George Herring with 15 seconds left, with Filchock electing to punt on 4th-and-8 from the Denver 25-yard line. Center Mike Nichols snapped the ball at the feet of Herring, who scooped it up and tried to kick it away. Titans defender Nick Mumley blocked the kick, and teammate Roger Donahoe picked it up at the 12 and rumbled into the end zone as time ran out.
"The shabby orange letters on the Eighth Ave. side of the Polo Grounds, hard by the crummy Harlem River, proclaim simply: N.Y. Giants," Bowie began his recap for the Post. "They are faded nostalgic reminders of the halcyon days here at the foot of Coogan's Bluff. But, after what transpired Friday evening on the threadbare turf, the ramshackle old joint proved it's still one of our better thrill palaces."
One simply executed punt, and the Broncos would have returned to Denver as a 3-0 AFL powerhouse. That it didn't happen, in the wake of the last-minute gaffe in New York, made for a tougher flight back to Colorado for the Broncos. Still, if anybody had told Tripucka beforehand his team would be 2-1 after a first three games on the road, he would have been happy.
"The loss to the Titans was a big disappointment, but we did feel good about what we did," he said. "We ended up winning that the first home game (against Oakland), and if we'd been 4-0 by then, I really think we'd have made the playoffs. I think we would have been on such a high, that we would have made it. But that blocked punt hurt. That's the one thing that went wrong on that whole first road trip, but it cost us a game."
|10-24-2007, 10:09 AM||#3|
Join Date: Sep 2002