Saturday, October 31, 2015

Steve Atwater at the Broncos QB Club

"You guys are integral to the success of the Broncos," Steve Atwater told a sell out crowd at this month's Denver Broncos Quarterback Club meeting.  The former Denver all-pro safety charmed the audience with telling stories of his playing days, signing autographs, and answering questions from our group of long time Bronco fans.

Atwater was in town for the induction of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen into the team's Ring of Fame.  "Mr Bowlen is a great individual," Atwater said.  "His philosophy was a huge part of our success as a team.  #1 he wanted us to be number one at everything #2 He said the team's success was not about him, it's about others."  Sadly, Bowlen will not be at the ceremonies on Sunday as he is in the advanced stages of battling Alzheimers disease.  "I wish he could be there," Atwater said.

After his brief introductory remarks about Pat Bowlen and his appreciation of the Denver fans, Atwater took questions from the crowd.  A sample of some of his answers are listed below:

What running backs and wide receivers gave you the most fits in your playing days?

Marion Butts from the Chargers was tough - 6'1" and 250 lbs.  We had some good battles.  I had to take advil after a day of tackling Marion.

Jerry Rice was the best wide receiver I faced.  Before the 1989 season's Super Bowl we had been going over a play in practice where Rice comes over the middle.  He did that exact play in the game and I thought "I'm going to crush him!"  I hit Rice, he bounced off and ran into the end zone.  I was so down at half time of that game.  I felt like calling my Mom and saying, "can you come over and pick me up?"

How did you feel before the Green Bay Super Bowl?

We had lost to Jacksonville the year before and the players were stunned.  The next year we went 12-4 and we felt we could do it.  The worst day in my life was that first Super Bowl loss to San Francisco, and I didn't want to experience that feeling again.  We have an AFC Championship ring from that year - I have never worn that ring in my life.  It's like a loser's ring.  We wanted to beat Green Gay for the fans, for Mr Bowlen, and for the AFC (the AFC had a long streak of Super Bowl losses before the Broncos win that day)

Tell us about your relationship with Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby

Bradley went to the same high school as my son.  I could see his talent right away.  I told his Mom, "if he stays healthy he'll be in the NFL."  Bradley's extremely bright - he scored over 2000 on the SAT.  He was raised by his Mom, a single parent.  He's a very hard worker.  I give him words of encouragement today.

Who was your biggest rival in your playing days?

I loved beating the Raiders and the Chiefs.  I didn't feel as strongly about games versus the Chargers.

What were the most hostile visiting cities to visit?

Oakland, KC, and Buffalo.  In buffalo you had to deal with the snow balls.  Kansas City was the loudest stadium I played in.  My family from St Louis would come to my games in KC and they didn't want to wear Bronco gear - they got yelled out too much by the fans when they did.

What was it like to be inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame in 2005?

Pat Bowlen called me to say I would be inducted and I said, "what?" It was a surprise.  In my playing days when the national anthem played I looked around at the names in the ring of fame and thought of all the sacrifices those players made to build the franchise.  Getting inducted meant the world to me.  It wasn't just an individual honor - it was a credit to my teammates who made plays in front of me putting me in a position to succeed.

Do you want to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

I hope some day it'll happen, but I'm fine if it doesn't.  I still had a great career and had great relationships with many players and coaches.

Did you have a feeling the Broncos would draft you?

I didn't know who would draft me.  I did meet with two Bronco scouts who came out to Arkansas to time me.  I ran my best time ever - 4.47 seconds in the 40.  Really? I thought to myself, I ran that fast?  After I retired I had dinner with those two scouts.  I brought up how fast I ran that day.  One scout said, "I can make that clock say whatever I want it to say.  I liked you!"



After answering our many questions Atwater was very kind in talking to all the fans who wanted autographs and who wanted pictures with this former Bronco great.  In standing next to Atwater I could imagine what Christian Okoye must have felt to be hit by this man - he towered over the fans in attendance this day.

Atwater had his 49th birthday 3 days prior.  The QB Club surprised him with a birthday cake and he was all smiles as we sang him Happy Birthday.  It was the least we could do.  I was very impressed with how gracious Atwater was in donating his time on a busy ring-of-fame weekend to spend two hours with our club.

1 comment:

  1. Great report! Atwater and Smith were two of the most dominating safety's we've had.Love watching Steve's stop of Okoye.