Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Denver Broncos

Here we have the 1971 Denver Broncos cards. Four of the ten players are pictured in other teams' uniforms. In the early days, the Broncos seemed like the AFL's revolving door. In their first 8 seasons, Denver finished 2-11-1 twice, 3-11 twice, and 4-10 twice. After 2 straight 5-8-1 seasons, the Broncos slipped to 4-9-1 in 1971, bringing an end to Lou Saban's 5-year tenure as head coach.

#59 Don Horn - Horn was the Packers' 1st-round draft pick in 1967, and after caddying for Bart Starr for 4 seasons, Don finally got his own gig in 1971 with the Broncos. He was Denver's 4th starting QB in 4 years, but the carousel didn't stop there. After 9 games, he lost his job to Steve Ramsey, who would be replaced in 1972 by ex-Cardinal Charlie Johnson. In 1972, Don wasted away as the Broncos' 3rd-string QB before moving on to Cleveland in 1973 and San Diego in 1974.

#110 Floyd Little - One of the few Broncos' stars of the 1960s and early 1970s, Little was Denver's 1st-round pick in 1967, and played his entire career (1967-75) with the Broncos. Floyd led the NFL in rushing with 1133 yards in 1971, and his 12 TDs in 1973 also led the league. Little was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 2010.

#212 Bob Anderson - Bob was drafted in the 1st round by the Broncos in 1970, and played 4 seasons with them as a fullback and kick returner. After jumping to the WFL in 1974, Bob returned to the NFL in 1975 and played briefly for the Redskins and Patriots. His brother Dick was a safety with the Dolphins in the early 1970s.

#185 Sam Brunelli - Brunelli had a 6-year career with the Broncos from 1966 to 1971. He was their starting left tackle from 1967-70.

#136 Jim Turner - Turner was drafted by the Redskins in 1963 but did not make the team. Beginning in 1964, Jim played every game for the next 16 seasons, first with the Jets (1964-70) and then the Broncos (1971-79). Turner kicked for the Jets in Super Bowl III and the Broncos in Super Bowl XII. Because the back of the card said "he can also fill in at quarterback", apparently in 1971 I felt the need to update his position on the front. (He had a total of 4 passing attempts in 1967 and 1 in 1973.)

#81 Rich Jackson - Jackson was signed as a free agent in 1965 by the Raiders, but a training camp injury landed him on the taxi squad all season. He returned in 1966 as a backup linebacker for the Raiders, then was traded to the Broncos in summer 1967 and switched to defensive END. From 1967 to 1972, he was a starting defensive end for Denver, until finishing his career with the Browns in the latter part of the 1972 season.

#164 Dave Costa - Dave played 12 years in the AFL and NFL as a defensive tackle. He began with Oakland (1963-65), then Buffalo (1966), Denver (1967-71), San Diego (1972-72), and back to Buffalo (1974). He was a starter everywhere except for his 2 seasons with the Bills, and made the Pro Bowl 4 times.

#256 Cornell Gordon - Cornell played for the Jets from 1965 to 1969, finally becoming the starting right cornerback in his last season there. He also played 3 seasons with the Broncos (1970-72), and was their starting left cornerback in 1970.

#38 Paul Martha - Paul was drafted by the Steelers in the 1st round in 1964, out of the University of Pittsburgh. A seldom-used split end during his first 2 seasons, he moved to defense in 1966 when injuries decimated the Steelers, and was their starting free safety for 4 seasons. He wrapped up his career in 1970 as the Broncos' starting free safety. After football, he became an attorney, and was an executive with the San Francisco 49ers and later the Pittsburgh Penguins.

#9 Billy Van Heusen - Van Heusen was primarily a punter, and played his entire career (1968-76) with the Broncos. He was also a starting wide receiver in 1974 and 1975.

Also see the 1968 Broncos.

Next time: Green Bay Packers