The history of the Denver Broncos American football club begins not with the National Football League (NFL) but with the American Football League (AFL.) In 1959 the owner of the minor-league baseball team Denver Bears Bob Howsam had expanded the Bear’s stadium to 34,000 after they were named a charter member of the newly formed Continental League. Unfortunately for Howsam the Continental League never came to fruition and he was stuck with a 34,000-seat stadium with no teams to draw those types of crowds, so Howsam decided he was going to bring professional football to Denver.
A Brief History of the Denver Broncos
After Howsam and Denver were snubbed for an NFL expansion team, he and four other others decided to start their own football league to compete with the NFL. The AFL was formed in 1960 with 8 teams including the Denver Broncos. The Broncos would never find success in the AFL, being the only team to never make an appearance in the championship game and ending their tenure with a league-worst 39-97-4 record. The Broncos would not find success until after the AFL-NFL merger of 1970 when the Broncos became an official NFL team.
Early Years in the NFL
The Broncos saw a mixed bag of results in their first several seasons as an NFL franchise. In 1973 The Broncos secured their first ever winning season and secured the NFL division for the first time in 1977. The Broncos made their first Super Bowl appearance in 1977 where they were beaten by the Dallas Cowboys 27-10.
The John Elway Era
Up to 1983, The Broncos had utilized 24 different starting quarterbacks until the draft of John Elway out of Stanford. John Elway would begin a new level of success in Denver, securing 3 AFC championships for the club during the 1980s but ultimately falling short of a Super Bowl victory.
In 1995 the Broncos hired Mike Shanahan as the new head coach. Shanahan and Elway were finally able to secure a championship for Denver, winning Super Bowl XXXII against the heavily-favored Green Bay Packers and repeating as champions in Super Bowl XXXIII against the Atlanta Falcons. Elway retired after the victory.
The Peyton Manning Era
The Broncos would find limited success after Elway’s departure until a trade brought the Indianapolis Colts’ MVP quarterback Peyton Manning to the Broncos. The Broncos would go on to make the playoffs all four seasons of Manning’s time in Denver, including a 2013 AFC championship and a win in Super Bowl XL against the Carolina Panthers. Like Elway, Manning retired after Super Bowl Victory.
The Broncos’ 3 Super Bowl victories tie them at seventh-most wins with the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders. Since their inception, The Broncos have won 15 division titles and 8 AFC championships. The Broncos are currently owned by the Bowlen family and play their home games at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.