After all this time, Broncos are still tough to watch
I haven’t watched a Denver Bronco football game in its entirety since the 1992 season when Dan Reeves was coaching the team. I’ve taken in bits and pieces here and there, but have not made a conscious effort to watch the team for many years, as I once did. When Reeves was let go by the team following the ’92 season after 12 successful years as the head coach, I lost interest in pulling for them. In fairness, it was probably time for Reeves to move on anyway. The coach and star player (John Elway) didn’t see eye to eye on the team’s offensive philosophy, and Bronco owner Pat Bowlen was not about to side with his coach in that dispute.Reeves did move on to the New York Giants the following season, turning the franchise around from a 6-10 mark the previous season to an 11-5 record and a playoff appearance. He was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year following the 1993 season, and I was pulling for him every step of the way.The one Denver game I did tune in to was Super Bowl XXXIII, which pitted the Broncos against the Atlanta Falcons or, better yet, Mike Shanahan against Dan Reeves. Reeves had moved on from the Giants to coaching the Falcons, and there was no love lost between him and Shanahan, who served as an assistant coach to Reeves in Denver.I was pulling for Reeves and his team to put a beatdown on the Broncos that day, but it wasn’t to be. Denver came away with a convincing 34-19 victory and, in the process, sent Reeves to his fourth defeat in as many tries in a Super Bowl.In the weeks following the game, Reeves was a unanimous choice as the NFL’s coach of the year for that 1998 season. Some may remember that Reeves missed the final two regular-season games in 1998 after undergoing heart surgery. In a testament to the coach’s old-school toughness, he was back on the Atlanta sidelines three weeks later guiding the Falcons to the NFC championship. Maybe the biggest reason I still choose to tune out the Broncos is their leader, Mike Shanahan (or Shenanigan, as a friend calls him). Reeves fired Shanahan from his Denver staff following the 1991 season, citing issues of trust and loyalty in dealing with quarterback Elway. Most of this was probably Reeves’ own paranoia at having a bright, young offensive mind in Shanahan who meshed better with Elway than he did. In truth, both sides were probably a little at fault in that misunderstanding.After spewing all this anti-Bronco sentiment, you might wonder why I decided to turn on the Broncos’ Monday night encounter with New England. I wanted to take a look at Jay Cutler, the Denver quarterback who has been comparing his arm strength to that of John Elway. That’s pretty lofty praise, especially given to oneself. I had to see this third-year quarterback from Vanderbilt to see if there were any resemblance to Elway, who is one of the best to ever lace up the cleats.After watching: Yes, in bits and pieces of the game, but it was hard to get a gauge on Cutler. An early injury to his hand and a sub-par night by the entire team left the jury undecided on the young Bronco.Maybe someday Cutler will be the man to get Denver and Coach Shenanigan back to “The Bowl” and have others comparing him to Elway.Only time will tell.Mike Vidakovich is a freelance reporter for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.
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