Though they are now the defending NFL Super Bowl champion, the Denver Broncos got their start, along with a handful of other teams, in the in the 1960s when being part of the NFL was just a dream. Bob Howsam was the owner of a minor league baseball team named the Denver Bears and expressed interest in bringing professional football to the Denver area. When Lamar Hunt went forward with his plans to establish a new football league to compete with the popular NFL, he rang Howsam’s phone, and the Broncos (along with the American Football League) were born.
As with many sports teams that were established decades ago, the Broncos’ team moniker was selected via a fan contest, with “Broncos” leading the charge (perhaps alluding to Colorado’s Western heritage). The team didn’t have a lot of success during its AFL years but did notch its first winning season in 1973, three years after the AFL-NFL merger. Floyd Little was part of those early successes, working from the backfield, as well as in the punt and kick return game.
Domination in Denver
The team started to see more success after that, going to the playoffs 11 times from 1977 to 1996 – a run that included four Super Bowl losses. Things changed in 1997, however, when Hall of Famer John Elway led the team to back-to-back Super Bowl victories. Elway was a standout college player who was eyeballed by many teams before the 1983 draft, when he was selected No. 1 overall by the Baltimore Colts. He was promptly traded to Denver, where he played his entire professional career and is now regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. Terrell Davis was also a huge part of those Super Bowl squads; he pounded the rock for 1,750 and 2,008 yards during the 1997 and 1998 seasons respectively.
Elway and Davis are not the only standout Broncos players, however. Peyton Manning, who had his own massive success as a member of the Indianapolis Colts, was traded to Denver before the 2012 season. His first year in Denver was successful, but an early exit from the playoffs didn’t give fans the Super Bowl win they craved. Manning orchestrated a Super Bowl appearance and loss during the 2013 season but led the team to its third victory in the 2015–2016 season.
The success of the team is not the only thing that has changed over time. The Denver Broncos logo has undergone some adjustments over the course of the franchise’s history, from its old-timey origins to the sleek horse we’re familiar with today.
Changes at Mile High
1960–1961: The original Denver Broncos logo is quite a bit different than what fans are used to today. The colors match the uniforms of the time – mustard yellow paired with a retro shade of brown. They feature a football player riding a bucking bronco.
1962–1969: This era brings a significant color change. The yellow-and-brown uniforms are abandoned and orange and blue become the team colors, thanks to head coach Jack Faulkner and his desire to give the team a new image. 1962 welcomes a somewhat corresponding blue-and-orange version of the prior logo, featuring a football player riding an orange bucking bronco.
1970–1992: The ’70s ushers in a new Broncos logo. A large, orange “D” appears on a blue background, with a rearing white bronco exhaling steam in the center – the suggestion of fan and artist Edwin Taylor. This recognizable logo reminds many fans of the John Elway years and changes only slightly in the next version.
1993–1996: The 1993 version of the logo is moderately altered, refining the horse’s features and changing up the black outline.
1997–Present: The present-day logo is designed in 1996 when owner Pat Bowlen was hoping for a new design. Bowlen hits up the crew behind Nike’s characteristic swoop and asks for some logo magic to happen. The team designs a logo that is both simple and fierce and features a white stallion with an orange mane.
If you’re a Broncos fan, you’re likely hoping that the team heads back to the Super Bowl this season. Along the way, make sure you suit up properly by checking out Fanatics.com and their amazing lineup of Denver gear.