Thursday, August 18, 2011

South Standers Welcome Back "Half A Loaf" Lou in a Bills/Broncos 1973 Preseason Game

As I look forward to attending the Bills/Broncos preseason game Saturday night I think back to a memorable moment in a Bills/Broncos preseason game in 1973.

On a Saturday night ex-Bronco coach Lou Saban returned to Denver for the first time as Buffalo's coach after 4 1/2 years of losing seasons as the head man in Denver. I grew up going to games in the South Stands, and on this night the South Standers had a special "welcome back" surprise for Coach Saban.

The game Lou Saban was most known for in his Denver tenure was a 10-10 tie with the Miami Dolphins during the 1971 season's opening weekend. In that game the Broncos got the ball with less than 2 minutes to go on their own 20 with the score tied. Rather than try to win the game, Saban called three plays on the ground to run out the clock. I heard the boos all around me in the South Stands as the fans were not happy with Saban's conservative play calling. After the game Saban was asked why the Broncos did not try to win the game. "Half a loaf is better than none," was Lou's reply, satisfied with the tie.

That remark was the beginning of the end for Lou Saban in Denver, who thereafter was always known as "half a loaf" Lou to the Denver fans. Saban resigned as Broncos head coach mid-season in 1971.

Back to that 1973 Bills/Broncos preseason game. South Standers tend to hold a grudge. When Lou Saban and the Bills took the field that Saturday night suddenly I saw half loaves of bread flying out of the South Stands from all around me onto the field. I'm not talking one or two loaves - it was hundreds! I did not get word of this mass South Stand protest myself, otherwise I would have invested $1 in a loaf and joined in the fun!

Sadly, I don't see the same spirit as those old South Standers had at Bronco games today. When I was at a Bronco QB Club meeting earlier this week the four retired Bronco vets commented how the team had lost its home field advantage moving from the old Mile High. The crowd noise and fan fervor just isn't the same at the new place.

I read this week that the Broncos home field is going to be renamed "Sports Authority Field At Mile High". As the Denver Post reports, one of the first interior changes will be to paint many of the interior pillars with:


Are you kidding me??!! I can imagine Al Davis and Raider Fans are laughing at what the once mighty Bronco home field advantage has become. This phrase sounds like something dreamed up by a marketing executive rather than a true Bronco fan.

While we can't throw stuff on the field anymore, like those 70's South Standers used to do, when the Raiders visit on opening weekend I say a loud "Boo!!!!!!" will suffice.

PS Those days when Lou Saban coached the Broncos weren't all bad. Read about the top 5 Bronco wins I remember from the Saban days in a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago.

PSS Trivia question: Without looking it up, who scored the only touchdown for the Broncos in that 1971 Dolphins game? This player was later traded for one of the greatest Broncos of all time, a Ring of Famer.

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