Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mike Shanahan

This blog has always been about Broncos players, but I find it fitting to put in the winningest coach in franchise history in today's spot. Mike was fired yesterday after going 138-86 in 14 seasons. Here is his wikipedia page:

Michael Edward Shanahan (born August 24, 1952) is a former American football head coach, most recently for the Denver Broncos. He led the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1998 and 1999. He is the father of Houston Texans Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
1 Early career
2 NFL career
2.1 San Francisco 49ers
2.2 Denver Broncos
3 Head coaching record
4 Accomplishments
5 Personal
6 References
7 External links

Early career
Shanahan played high school football at East Leyden High School, where he played wishbone quarterback. He had the single-game rushing record until 1976 when it was broken by Dennis Cascio. The record is now held by Ricky Emery. Shanahan was an undersized quarterback at Eastern Illinois University in the 1970s before a hard hit on the practice field ruptured one of his kidneys, nearly killing him.[citation needed]
With his playing career abruptly ended, Shanahan entered coaching. After graduation, he served as an assistant coach at Northern Arizona University and the University of Oklahoma. He then returned to his alma mater as offensive coordinator and helped his school win the Division II football championship. Shanahan also worked at the University of Florida and the University of Minnesota, turning around both schools and making them into offensive powerhouses, before making the jump to the NFL.

NFL career
Shanahan served as a quarterbacks coach and later offensive coordinator for the Broncos under Dan Reeves in the 1980s and had a brief stint as the head coach of the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988–89. He went 8–12 with the Raiders in less than two seasons before being fired and returning to the Broncos as an offensive assistant again under Reeves. Shanahan was later fired by Reeves after finding himself in the middle of a growing feud between Reeves and quarterback John Elway.

San Francisco 49ers
In 1992, Shanahan was hired as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers on George Seifert's staff, capping his rise with a Super Bowl victory after the 1994 season. The 49ers offense that year has been hailed as one of the greatest of all time, with the likes of Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Brent Jones, John Taylor, William Floyd and Ricky Watters scoring points in flurries. His years under Seifert placed him in the Bill Walsh coaching tree.

Denver Broncos
Shanahan's success with the 49ers earned him a head coaching spot once more, this time back in Denver with the Broncos beginning in 1995. Shanahan led Elway and the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl championships in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, during which time the Broncos set a then-record for victories in two seasons. He was the last coach to win two consecutive titles until New England's Bill Belichick did it during the 2003 and 2004 NFL seasons. Between 1996-1998, the Broncos set the NFL record for victories by going 46–10 over a three-year span. The 1998 Broncos won their first 13 games on their way to a 14–2 mark. Shanahan, taking his cue from West Coast offense guru Bill Walsh, was well-known for scripting the first 15 offensive plays of the game, and helped the '98 Broncos set an NFL record for first quarter points scored in a season.
Shanahan is known for a run-heavy variation of the West Coast offense he coached in San Francisco. He has often found unheralded running backs from later rounds of the annual NFL Draft and then turned them into league-leading rushers behind small-but-powerful offensive lines. Examples of this phenomenon are Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Reuben Droughns and Tatum Bell, all of whom have had at least one 1,000-yard season in a Denver uniform over the past 10 years.
Shanahan faced criticism for not delivering a playoff victory since Elway's retirement and Davis' career-ending injuries. The playoff drought ended on January 14, 2006 when the Broncos defeated the two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs at Invesco Field at Mile High. Coincidentally, Shanahan has the best record for any active coach against Bill Belichick. Including the postseason win, Shanahan is 5–2 against Belichick's Patriots, the five wins coming in the last six meetings.
In 1999, with the assistance of writer Adam Schefter, Shanahan penned Think Like a Champion, a motivational book about leadership. It was published by Harper Collins.
On December 30, 2008, Shanahan was fired after the Broncos failed to make the playoffs during the 2008 NFL season.[1] It was the third consecutive year in which Denver didn't make the playoffs. Shanahan had a coaching record of 24-24 over those three seasons.

Thanks for the 2 Super Bowls, Mike. Best of luck in wherever you go. Unless it is the Lions.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rick Upchurch

Before Rod Smith wore #80 for the Broncos, there was Rick Upchurch. A 4 time Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL's all 80's team, Rick is one of the greatest kick returners in NFL History. Here is his info from Wikipedia:

Richard "Rick" Upchurch (born May 20, 1952 in Toledo, Ohio) is former professional American football player who played wide receiver for the Denver Broncos (1975-1983) of the NFL. Before his NFL career, he played for the University of Minnesota and went to highschool at springfield high school in holland ohio. In 2000, Upchurch was named one of the 300 best NFL players of all time [1].
In his 9 NFL seasons, Upchurch excelled as a receiver and a kick returner on special teams. In his rookie season, he rushed for 97 yards, caught 18 passes for 436 yards, returned 27 punts for 312 yards, and added another 1,014 yards returning kickoffs. In his second season, he set an NFL record by returning 4 punts for touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl. In the 1977 season, he led the NFL with 653 punt return yards and assisted his team to their first ever Super Bowl appearance. The Broncos lost Super Bowl XII to the Dallas Cowboys 27-10, but he had a good performance in the game. Upchurch amassed 125 total offensive yards (94 kickoff return, 22 punt return, 9 receiving), including a Super Bowl record 67-yard kickoff return in the 3rd quarter that set up Denver's only touchdown of the game.
Upchurch stayed with the Broncos until the 1983 season. He led the NFL in punt return average twice (1978 and 1982), and was selected to the pro bowl 3 more times (1978, 1979, 1982). He finished his 9 season career with 49 carries for 349 rushing yards, 267 receptions for 4,369 yards, 248 punt returns for 3,008 yards, and 95 kickoff returns for 2,355 yards. Overall, Upchurch gained 10,081 total yards and scored 35 touchdowns: 8 punt return, 24 receiving, 3 rushing. He was also selected All-Pro 5 times. At the time of his retirement, his 8 punt returns for touchdowns tied the NFL record shared by Jack Christiansen. He is one of five players to record a career average of over 12 yards per punt return.
Upchurch dated and was briefly engaged to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the 1970s. She left him because, according to her biographer Marcus Mabry, "She knew the relationship wasn't going to work on an intellectual level".[3] He is currently married and has 4 children.[2]
In 2005, Upchurch became the head football coach at East High School in Pueblo, Colorado. Upchurch currently resides in Mesquite, Nevada and frequently visits nearby communities such as St. George, Utah and Logandale, Nevada to sign autographs for Broncos fans.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wymon Henderson

Wymon Henderson was a cornerback who played 4 seasons for the Broncos from 1989-1992. He wore number 24 and actually started those 4 years in Denver. He went to UNLV. He also played in the USFL as well as 2 seasons a piece with the Vikings and Rams. He is mostly remembered for rocking some sweet prescription raquetball goggles. These are quite obvious in all of the above pictures.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mike Horan

Mike Horan was the punter for the Broncos from 1986-1992 and appeared in 3 Super Bowls with the team. He wore number 2 and rocked a sweet mustache. He was voted to the Pro Bowl after the 1988 season. He ended up playing for 16 seasons in the NFL and won a Super Bowl with the Rams. He was well known for being adept at using the "coffin corner" technique of pinning the other team deep in its own territory.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rulon Jones

Rulon Jones was a defensive end for the Broncos in the 1980's. Drafted in 1980 out of Utah State, Rulon played for the Broncos until he retired after the 1988 season. He was named to 2 Pro Bowls, and racked up 52.5 QB sacks in his career. He now owns and operates hunting ranches in Utah and Idaho. That is him in the back of the picture with the bear. His Starting Lineup is one of the most rare figures, with some going for $150 on ebay. Nerds.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Rex Mirich

Rex Mirich played 3 years as a defensive lineman with the Broncos in the 1960's. He played at Northern Arizona University. That is all I know about him. I only picked him because he looks exactly like the Dad from the Wonder Years.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Keith Bishop

Keith Bishop played guard for the Broncos from 1980-1989. He was originally a 6th round draft choice out of Baylor. He wore #54. He is most famously remembered for uttering the words "Now we got em right where we want em" during the 1986 AFC Championship Game. This was at the beginning of "The Drive" when the Broncos were at their own 2 yard line and down 7 in the fourth quarter. Obviously, the Broncos won that game, and Keith's words have lived on. He participated in the Strong Man Competion early in his career. Notice the nice sumo thong thing he is wearing in the picture. He now works as a DEA agent based out of Virginia.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rubin Carter

Rubin Carter wore number 68 as the nosetackle of the Broncos' famed Orange Crush Defense. Widely regarded as the first true nosetackle in NFL history, Rubin was drafted out of the U of Miami in the 5th round in 1975. He spent from 1975-1986 playing for the Broncos. He is the father of NFL player Andre Carter. He recently was fired as head coach of Florida A & M University. He shares a name with former heavyweight and wrongly accused criminal Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lyle Alzado

He played college football for Kilgore College, a junior college, for two years, and then Yankton College in South Dakota, where he was noticed by a Denver Broncos coach watching film. The Broncos drafted him in the fourth round, in 1971. Alzado went back to Yankton after his rookie season to get his college degree. He received a B.A. in physical education with an emphasis on secondary education. During his career, he played defensive line for the Los Angeles Raiders, Cleveland Browns, and Denver Broncos during the 1970s and early 1980s. He was noted as a colorful and popular figure with the Broncos, Browns and Raiders. When the Broncos starting right defensive end was injured in 1971, Alzado took over the job and never gave it up. Alzado made various All-rookie teams for his contributions of 60 tackles and 8 sacks. The following year, Alzado began to get national attention as he racked up 10½ sacks to go with his 91 tackles. In 1973, Alzado posted excellent numbers as the Broncos had a winning record for the first time in team history with a 7-5-2 mark. Alzado especially shined in a Monday Night Football game that season. In 1974, Alzado gained more notice as one publication named him All-AFC, with his 13 sacks and 80 tackles (eight for a loss) he was being recognized with the NFL's top defensive ends, such as Elvin Bethea, Jack Youngblood,L.C. Greenwood, Claude Humphrey, and Carl Eller. The Denver Broncos posted their second consecutive winning season, going 7-6-1. The 1975 season brought change as Alzado moved to defensive tackle for the first time in the NFL. He responded with 91 tackles and 7 sacks. Alzado took a step backward as did the Broncos with a 6-8 record. On the first play ofthe 1976 season, Alzado blew out a knee and missed that campaign. The Broncos were 9-5 but SPORT magazine reported a Bronco player mutiny. Twelve players, including Alzado, did not think the team could reach the next level, the playoffs, with Coach John Ralston. Ownership finally agreed and hired Red Miller for the 1977 season. The 1977 season was the most successful in franchise history to that point;the Broncos had one of the NFL's best defenses and went 12-2 and then beat Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders in the playoffs to reach Super BowlXII. In that game, played in New Orleans, they were beaten soundly 27-10 bythe Dallas Cowboys. Still, the year was a big success for Alzado, who was voted consensus All-Pro and consensus All-AFC as well as winning the UPI AFC Defensive Player of the Year. He also led the Broncos in sacks with 8, while making 80 tackles. The Broncos again went to the AFC playoffs, losing the first round to the eventual champions Steelers. Alzado had 77 tackles and 9 sacks and recorded his first NFL safety. (Alzado would record two more in his career, which ties him in second place all-time). He was 2nd team All-Pro and a consensusAll-AFC pick. In 1979 he had a contract dispute, and the Broncos traded him to the Cleveland Browns. He played well with the Browns, making second team All-AFC in 1979 while playing defensive end. Alzado had 80 tackles in that year to go with his seven sacks. The following year the Browns won the AFC Central division,losing to the Raiders in the Divisional round. Alzado led the Browns in sacks with nine, and was All-Pro and All-AFC. In 1981 he suffered some injuries, and at times his focus on football was diminished because of problems in his private life. Still, he recorded 83 tackles and led the Browns in sacks with 8½. However, the Browns traded him to the Los Angeles Raiders in 1982. Being discarded by the Browns rekindled a fire in Lyle, and he worked out with a vengeance. In 1982 Alzado was voted the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Although he played a full season in 1981, his play was seemingly so superior in 1982 that he garnered the award. In the strike-shortened 1982 season of 9 games, Alzado recorded 7 sacks and 30 tackles while being voted All-AFC. This was the sixth season out of his first twelve campaigns that he received some sort of post-season honor. Lyle was one of the fiercest competitors the NFL has ever seen. In fact, due to Alzado throwing an opponent's helmet across the field, the league instituted a rule specifically banning the act.[1] He continued to perform well for the Raiders in the 1983 season, helping lead them to a Super Bowl that year while recording 50 tackles and 7½ sacks. He also had an outstanding 1984 season with 63 tackles and 6 sacks, but was injured part way through 1985 and retired at the end of the year. His tackle and sack totals dipped to 31 and 3. By any definition it was an excellent career, nearing 1,000 tackles, recording 112½ sacks and forcing 24 fumbles. He played in two Super Bowls and emerged a winner once. He attempted a comeback in 1990, but injured a knee during training camp and was released. After this he retired for good.However, his admitted use of anabolic steroids from the time he was in college has tainted his career achievements for some.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Marlin Briscoe

Marlin Briscoe played one season with the Broncos in 1968. He is known as the first black quarterback. Here is his information from his wikipedia page:

Marlin Oliver Briscoe (born September 10, 1945 in Oakland, California) is a former professional American football wide receiver/quarterback who played for nine years. Before being drafted in 1967, Briscoe played high school football at Omaha South High School and college football at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Briscoe started his career in the American Football League in 1968, with the Denver Broncos, where he became the first starting black quarterback of the modern era. In 1969 he went to the Buffalo Bills, and after the AFL-NFL merger, he played in the National Football League from 1970 though 1976, mostly with American Football Conference teams. During eight of his nine years, Briscoe was a receiver, but he is best known as the first modern African-American quarterback, playing the position as a rookie with the Broncos.
Marlin Briscoe was intercepted by Boston Patriots AFL All Star Defensive Back Leroy Mitchell in Denver's 35-14 rout of the Patriots @ Fenway Park on 11-03-68. He is the only player to be intercepted by a Patriot Player and catch a TD as a Patriot Receiver. (See 10-03-76)
From 1969-1971, Briscoe played for the Buffalo Bills as wide receiver. In 1970 he was in the top 2 in receptions and receiving yards and became an All-Pro.
From 1972-1974 He played for the Miami Dolphins and won 2 Super Bowl rings. He was the leading receiver on the Dolphins in 1973, catching more passes than future Pro Football Hall of Famer, Paul Warfield.
He ended his career in 1976 with the New England Patriots. Marlin had 10 receptions for 136 yards and 1 TD in 14 regular season games for the New England Patriots in 1976. He caught a 16 yard TD pass from Steve Grogan in the Patriots 48-17 destruction of the Oakland Raiders @ Schaefer Stadium on 10-03-76.
Today, he works with youths and has his own football camp for children.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rich Karlis

Richard John Karlis (born May 23, 1959, in Salem, Ohio) is a former American Football placekicker who played nine seasons for the Denver Broncos, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Detroit Lions in the National Football League from 1982 to 1990. He played college football at the University of Cincinnati and is known as the last of the field goal kickers who kicked barefoot full time in the NFL. Karlis is best known for kicking the game winning field goal in overtime for the Broncos against the Cleveland Browns in the 1986 AFC Championship game to reach Super Bowl XXI. He had a rather ironic performance in Super Bowl XXI, tying a Super Bowl record with a 48-yard field goal, but also missing a 23-yard attempt, the shortest missed field goal in Super Bowl history at that time. In 1989 he tied a then NFL record by kicking seven field goals in a game against the Los Angeles Rams, a record held until 2007. Karlis made 172 field goals and 283 extra point attempts for 799 points in his career and also holds Super Bowl records for most field goals attempts with six, making three of them and other records including most consecutive field goals made as a rookie with thirteen in 1982 and most field goals in a game with seven in 1990 in which he is tied with two other players.

He is also best known for having every one of his football cards to have his name as Rick instead of Rich. He also made quite the fashion statement when he would wear a moon boot to keep his foot warm on the sideline.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sammy Winder

Sammy Winder was a running back for the Broncos from 1982-1990. He wore number 23. Winder was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (1984 and 1986), and was a key player on the Broncos during the 1980's; assisting them to three Super Bowl appearances. In his 9 seasons, Winder rushed for 5,427 yards and 39 touchdowns, while also catching 197 passes for 1,302 yards and 9 touchdowns. He was known for a signature touchdown celebration that he called the'Mississippi Mud Walk'. Before his NFL career, Winder played football at The University of SouthernMississippi. I will always remember his 2 touchdown game in the 1989 AFC Championship game. When he scored off of a pass from John Elway, the camera was shaking from Mile High being so loud and shaky from the fans going wild. If I ever find a clip of it, I will post it here.