Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top Denver Sports Moments of 2015

The Denver Broncos dominate my list of the top Denver sports moments of 2015.  Here's my list:

10.  Nuggets draft Emmanuel Mudiay #1.

The Nuggets draft young point guard Emmanuel Mudiay with the 7th pick of the first round of the NBA draft.  Many experts rated Mudiay as one of the top three in the draft, so Denver was fortunate he fell to them at pick 7.  Mudiay got off to a promising start in his rookie year but at year's end he is struggling with injuries and turnovers.  Still he has shown enough promise to lead future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd to say "(Mudiay) will be better than me."

9. Colorado Rockies win opener 10-0 over Milwaukee.

In their most impressive opening day performance in team history, the Rockies stunned the Brewers in Milwaukee 10-0.  Baseball opening day always draws more interest than other games on the long 162 schedule.  Would this opening day blowout be a sign of better things to come for the Rockies?  No, as they struggled to a last place finish in the NL West once again.  But for one day the Rockies were the talk of the baseball world.

8.  Colorado Rockies sweep the defending champ Giants in mid-April.

The Rockies opening day win was not their only highlight in April.  A surprising sweep of the defending World Champ Giants in San Francisco temporarily put the Rocks in first place.  At least they held Denver fans interest until the NFL draft and Bronco mini-camps later in the month!

7.  Denver Nuggets beat Houston Rockets in the season opener.

The Nuggets surprised the Houston Rockets on opening night with a convincing 105-85 win over the Rockets in Houston.  This game was doubly sweet as former Nugget Ty Lawson struggled while his point guard successor, Emmanuel Mudiay, had 9 assists.  Like the Rockies, opening day would not be a sign of better things to come for the Nuggets, as they have lost 7 of their last 8 at year's end.

6.  Broncos Beat Ravens 19-13 in season opener.

It was a good year for openers for most of our teams as the Broncos edged the Ravens 19-13 to start their season.  The Ravens had a chance to score the go ahead TD in the closing minutes when Steve Smith dropped a sure TD pass from Joe Flacco.  The win setup the Broncos to go on a 7-0 start while the Ravens never recovered.  This was the same Raven team that almost beat the Super Bowl champ Patriots in the playoffs in January.

5.  Broncos Beat Kansas City 31-24 in Thursday night football opener.

This was to be the game where the Chiefs finally beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos.  It sure looked that way for most of the game before Denver tied the score in the closing minute, then stunned the crowd with a fumble return td just when it looked like the game would go to overtime.  This sent the Chiefs reeling to a 1-5 start before KC recovered with a 9 game winning streak.  As it looks like the Broncos will once again win the division at year's end, they could not have done it without this victory.

4.  Colorado edges Colorado State 27-24 in overtime.

Lots of Colorado fans do not like this annual rivalry game to be played at Denver's Sports Authority Field.  And the game had lost its appeal in Denver in recent years.  But this 2015 game was a classic in the series.  A near sell out crowd for the first time in five years added to the atmosphere.  As a CU fan I liked the result - one of the few highlights in an otherwise disappointing season for the Buffs.

3.  Broncos win the battle of the unbeatens on Sunday Night Football 29-10 over Green Bay.

In a prime time battle of two 6-0 teams, the Broncos had their best performance of the season in dominating the Packers for an easy win.

2.  Broncos edge Bengals 20-17 in overtime.

In a game which should decide the 2nd seed and first round bye in the playoffs, the Broncos overcome a 14-0 first half deficit to edge the Bengals in overtime.  The game had many twists and turns, with the Broncos winning on a fumble recovery in overtime.  It was the third coldest home game in the team's history but the Broncos comeback win warmed the hearts of the Mile Hi faithful.

1.  Broncos beat New England 30-24 in overtime.

It was a thrilling year of overtime victories for the Broncos (3).  None was sweeter than this 30-24 win over the defending Super Bowl Champ Patriots.  The Patriots dominated much of the game and had a 14 point lead early in the 4th quarter, but Denver quarterback Brock Osweiler, making his first start, led an amazing comeback for the win.  The frigid weather, the first "snow" game in Denver in 10 years, added to the Sunday night atmosphere.  Whatever happens to the Broncos in the playoffs, CJ Anderson's 48 yard clinching td run will long be remembered as one of the great moments in Broncos history. 

And these two didn't make my top 10 but deserve honorable mention:

University of Denver wins ncaa lacrosse championship

In a sport dominated by eastern colleges, DU became the first school west of the Mississippi to win the national championship in lacrosse.

Broncos part ways with John Fox, hire Gary Kubiak

 After a surprising and disappointing playoff exit against the Colts in Denver, the Broncos part ways with head coach John Fox and bring home former long time assistant and player Gary Kubiak. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Mile High Magic book review

As a long time fan of the Denver Broncos I was excited to read Mike Klis' new book "Mile High Magic: The 25 Greatest Moments in Denver Broncos History".  Klis' anthology of the team's history did not disappoint - it's the best book I've read on the Broncos to date.

Klis has covered the Broncos as a reporter first for the Denver Post (2005-2014) and this year for Channel 9 television in Denver.  I liked that Mile High Magic was more than a rehash of old newspaper stories - Klis interviewed many Bronco stars of the past to get their current take on memorable events in the team's history.  "The Drive was kind of my coming out party," John Elway relates when thinking back to the #1 moment in the book - the 98 yard touchdown drive in the waning minutes of the 1987 AFC Championship game in Cleveland.  "That legitimized me in big games."  I enjoyed reliving the great moments of the Broncos past through the eyes of the players that made them happen.

The book is beautifully illustrated, with classic color photos from past game action.  This is your ultimate coffee table Broncos book.  I would buy it just for the pictures alone.

In addition Mile High Magic is packed with interesting little facts about the team that even the most ardent Bronco fans may not be aware of. Moment #18 is John Elway's 43 yard pass to a leaping Rod Smith in a September 1995 game to beat the Washington Redskins as time expired.  "It was the only football game Elway had ever played in - high school, college, or pro - that he threw a touchdown pass on the final play to win the game," Klis writes.  I did not know that!

A minor beef I had with the book:  Klis has too much Manning in the book, and too little "Little".  Peyton Manning has five of the team's great moments, while Hall of Famer Floyd Little only has one.  Some notable Floyd Little games that did not make the Klis top 25:

1.  The Broncos 21-19 victory over the defending Super Bowl Champion NY Jets in 1969.  I talked to another long time fan recently and we rated this game, and last month's amazing victory over the undefeated New England Patriots, as the two best Bronco regular season home games ever.  Why was this game great?  Read my previous post about it here.

2.  The Broncos 27-0 win over Art Modell's Cleveland Browns in 1971 after Modell had said during the NFL/AFL wars that the Denver Broncos would never play in his stadium  Starting with this game the Broncos would be the Browns' nemesis for decades.

3.  The Broncos first Monday Night Football appearance ever -  a 23-23 tie against the hated Raiders in 1973.

While Floyd's Bronco teams were not nearly as successful on the field as Peyton's, these games from the late 60's and early 70's were important in establishing the Broncos' franchise identity on a national level.  Why not condense the five Manning moments into two or three, and bump the number of Floyd Little moments in the list to match Peyton's?  Manning, after all, is going into the Hall of Fame as an Indianapolis Colt, and not as a Denver Bronco.

But every long time fan will no doubt have their own top 25 moments that won't necessarily match the author's choices. This does not detract from the book.  Mile High Magic is a wonderful walk down Denver Broncos memory lane.  A must read for fans who have lived through many of the team's great moments like I have.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Mile High Magic (Mike Klis at the Broncos QB Club)

It's been quite the week for the Denver Broncos Quarterback Club.  On Wednesday we were guests of the Broncos Huddle TV show (read my report on that here).  Then the very next night we were treated to a presentation by Mike Klis, Bronco insider for Channel 9 and author of the new book: "Mile High Magic - The 25 Greatest Moments In Denver Broncos History".

Klis is a two-time recipient of the Colorado Sportswriter of the Year award from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.  He's been covering the Broncos since 2005 - first with the Denver Post and this year for Channel 9 TV in Denver.  I always thought Klis was one of the most knowledgeable media types who cover the team.  It was great to meet him and hear his stories in person.

Klis' book will bring back pleasant memories for long time fans of the team.  On this night he shared a few stories from the book.  One was moment #21 - The Morton Miracle.  I was in the South Stands for this game (September 23, 1979).  The Broncos fell behind 34-10 to the Seattle Seahawks.  It was the 2nd half and things did not look good for the home team.  The book features current interviews with the major players in Bronco history, like Morton.  36 years after the game Morton recalls, "Red (Miller) came up to me and said, 'Craig, why don't you go in?' (in place of Bronco starting qb Norris Weese).  I said, 'You've got to be kidding me.  I'm not going in there.  It's 34-10.  What the hell do you want me to do?"  Morton was frustrated because of being benched for Weese, and because the coaches had ignored his play calling suggestions.  "They wouldn't listen to me so I said, 'I'm not going in there'. But some players started coming over and said 'Come on, lets just try it.'  I said 'All right, let's go'"  Red Miller had a play he wanted Morton to run.  Craig said "Coach, if I'm going in this game, I'm going to call the plays."  Morton proceeded to lead the Broncos to a 37-34 win, as Klis relates, the greatest second-half comeback in Broncos history and tied for the 5th largest second-half comeback in NFL regular season history.

It's the back story of games like this that make Mile High Magic a good read for members of the Broncos QB Club.  Klis graciously stayed late to autograph copies of the book for those in attendance (he easily sold out his allotment he had brought to the event)

Klis also answered questions about the current Broncos team.  I asked him what kind of contract Brock Osweiler could expect to get when his current deal runs out at the end of the season.  "If the Broncos had signed Brock in the preseason, they could have had him for two years and 10 million," Klis said.  "Now with his good play they'd probably sign him for four years and 36 million.  If Brock wins out he could get 12 million a year."  Klis also told us how it would be difficult for the Broncos to keep all the players they have on their last years of their contracts: Von Miller, Brock, Malik Jackson, Derek Wolfe, Ronnie Hillman, and Danny Trevathan.  "We better win it all this year," said a member of the audience, realizing that the Broncos could look like a very different team next season.

Klis had other little tidbits on the team that he shared (like Trevathan swallowing two teeth and likely not to play this week under the concussion protocol).  Our qb club group enjoyed picking the brain of Klis to get his real impressions of the team (you have to come to our meetings to get the inside scoop from Broncos insiders like Klis - we promise our guests the most juicy comments made at our meetings are "off the record"!)

A new feature at our meetings this year is an impressive Bronco jersey and memorabilia collection by Jamie Teumer and Tom Jacobsen.  Jamie and Tom brought jerseys this day to match the stories in Klis' book.

Like this signed game jersey by the first Broncos quarterback - Frank Tripucka!  The Broncos 13-10 first-game-ever win over the Boston Patriots in 1960 was moment #20 on the Klis list.

The Bronco memorabilia collection included present day items, too, like this signed Brock Osweiler shoe - size 17!

The Broncos QB Club is a non-profit organization supporting Denver area youth.  Club members were generous in donating gifts at this meeting to be delivered to the Children's Hospital Colorado.

If you are a Broncos fan living in the Denver area, joining the QB Club is a bargain.  Only $50 for a family membership, and $20 per person for our dinner meetings.  During the season we have ticket giveaways, too.  At this meeting pairs of tickets were given away to the upcoming Oakland, Cincinnati, and San Diego Bronco home games.

Guests are welcome to try out our meetings before deciding on membership.  We have a mix of reporters covering the team and players as speakers at our meetings.  Visit for more info.  Our next meeting will be January 12th featuring former Bronco offensive lineman Mark Cooper.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Live at the Broncos Huddle TV Show!

Tonight I was fortunate to have a front row seat for the recording of Channel 9's Broncos Huddle TV show!  Pictured above (from left to right) are Channel 9's Rod Mackey, player co-host Emmanuel Sanders, and player guest Malik Jackson. 

The production was done in the Broncos indoor practice facility - the UCHealth Training Center.  This was my first time for seeing this mammoth building, too.

As I walked in the door this full size cutout of a Bronco cheerleader, collecting charitable goods for the holidays, immediately caught my eye.  Behind her was the entrance to a new and expanded Broncos team store. 

The team store is much bigger than the one the Broncos formerly had in their other building.  Any fan can walk into the training facility and shop in the team store.  From the hallway you will have a good view of the practice field.

In addition to a variety of fan gear sold in the store, there were some special items, too, like this John Elway autographed game ball.

From the main hallway we could see where the Bronco Huddle recording would be done - in the corner of one of the end zones.  Our Bronco QB Club group was cleared one by one with security and we were led to the field where ...

... I got this awesome view of the whole regulation sized field, a warm place to practice on those cold and snowy Denver afternoons.  The Broncos in the past had an indoor "bubble" they practiced in.  This state-of-the-art facility was much bigger.

Banners of Bronco greats adorned the walls surrounding the practice field.  Over the end zone where we were seated were pictures of the three Bronco NFL Hall of Famers - John Elway, Floyd Little, and Shannon Sharpe.

On the side walls were banners of former Broncos in the team's Ring of Fame.

Our QB Club group felt priviledged to get this insider view of the Bronco facility and the Broncos Huddle TV show.

Player guest Malik Jackson was all smiles as he waved to us.  During the show Malik and Emmanuel Sanders talked about their week of practice and how they were not overlooking the visitors to Mile High this Sunday - the Oakland Raiders.

As part of the show, a member of the audience was picked to ask Emmanuel Sanders a question.  One of the youngest in attendance, this seven year old, did not let the TV lights phase him as he calmly asked Emmanuel, "When did you start playing football?  When do you recommend I start playing football?"  Sanders answered that he does not recommend tackle football until age 10 at the earliest.  He said he started playing at age 12.  He recommended before that to develop athletic skills playing a variety of sports and flag football.  He gave teammate Demaryius Thomas as an example of how you do not have to start at a young age to excel at this game - Thomas first played football as a junior in high school.

After the show the players returned to their meetings.  Channel 9 host Rod Mackey stayed around to chat with the fans, including the youngster who asked the question on the live show.

A new co-host for the Broncos Huddle?  No - that's me!  Rod talked to us "big kids" too.  He liked my University of Colorado jacket (Rod is also a CU Alum).  We all were given the chance to take a picture with Rod on the set.

Overall this was a great evening of getting an insiders perspective of Denver Broncos football.  Only one example of the fun and informative activities of the Denver Broncos Quarterback Club!  Don't miss out on our future events - join today!