The Denver Broncos look back to an amazing development: Like all teams that were part of the AFL, founded in 1959, the team had to suffer the condescension of the reputable NFL. However, in contrast to the rest of the AFL, the Broncos had to suffer for a reason: They were the worst team in the AFL and therefore were almost relocated to Atlanta.
When the AFL was founded, Bob Howsam, manager of a small baseball team, was able to secure a franchise for Colorado’s capital. Not the best choice: Howsam could barely raise enough money for the new team and had to dress his team in used jerseys of an extinct amateur team because of the bad financial situation. Especially the striped socks were deeply hated by the fans: they were publicly burned during an event in 1962.
In general it didn’t went very well for the Denver Broncos in the first years after they were founded: Although they won the first ever AFL game – a 13:10 victrory over the Boston Patriots – at the end of their first decade playing in the AFL, they only had 39 wins and therefore were the worst team in the league.
Despite all the setbacks, the basis for a better future of the team was already built in the 1960s. In 1965, the Denver Broncos were on the verge of being sold to Atlanta. But the brothers Gerald and Allen Phipps, who both held minority shares in the team, organized the resistance and finally bought the team and the stadium. The fans thanked them by buying almost four times as many season tickets for the new season, as in previous years. A loyalty that would last: Since 1970 every home game of the Denver Broncos is sold out.
After 14 years of success the Denver Broncos finally succeeded to complete a season with more victories than defeats in 1973. This season was a turning point: In the next 20 years, the Denver Broncos ended the season with a positive record 17 times and between 1977 and 1991 they won seven division titles and four AFC championships. However, they were never able to reach the really big success, a victory in the Super Bowl. IT also didn’t help that John Elway, one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, led the team from 1983.
But after a few years, when no one really anticipated it, the Broncos reached the Super Bowl and were able to defeat the current champion, the Green Bay Packers in 1997. And in 1998, the Broncos directly won the second title and there were a lot of great Denver Broncos games to watch. After this successful title defense John Elway retired – the only quarterback of the highly praised “Class of 83″ with a Super Bowl ring on his finger that he won with the Denver Broncos.