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.

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