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Saccomano: Savor Bay Area Football

Posted Aug 13, 2014

Jim Saccomano reflects on the great history of Bay Area Football and the influence Northern California has had on the Broncos.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - Whenever the Denver Broncos play in San Francisco or Oakland, I think of all the connections and the rich history of Bay Area football.

Some examples...

The 49ers began play in the post-World War II All-America Football Conference.

People have little idea today how isolated the West Coast seemed from America's biggest population centers at that time.

It was still all about college football then, and Stanford and Cal were huge.

Each school provided a quarterback for the Broncos -- John Elway and Craig Morton.

Each wore number 7 and both are, of course, in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Popular two-time Super Bowl Bronco Ed McCaffrey went to Stanford and his son Christian is currently a student there.

The 49ers’ new stadium is in Santa Clara, where the University of Santa Clara Broncos play.

We had a fullback in the 1960s from Santa Clara, a great guy and nice player named Mike Kellogg.

Mike is now a prominent judge in Los Angeles and he still calls the Broncos his team!

Our 1977 Super Bowl team had a future Pro Bowl linebacker from Cal, Bob Swenson. He was known as "The Kid" or "The California Kid." He was a terrific player.

Swenson once picked up a fumble against 49ers in 1979 and took it 88 yards for a touchdown. Swenson would knock you down, help you up, and knock you down again.

I always think of Jack Elway, who coached at Stanford before becoming a personnel man for us.

I think of the great friendship and rivalry between Mr. B and Eddie D., when Eddie DeBartolo owned the 49ers.

I think of the great John Ralston, who came to Denver from Stanford and built the foundation of our first championship team.

The 49ers used to play in Kezar Stadium before Candlestick Park.

But hardly anyone realizes that in 1960, the first season of the AFL, the Raiders literally had no place to play in Oakland and played every home game in Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

San Francisco was home to one of the greatest college teams of all time, the University of San Francisco Dons.

Their PR man was a friend whom I respect as much as anyone I have ever met in the business -- Pete Rozelle.

The Niners had one of the greatest and absolutely most intimidating linemen of all time, Bob St. Claire. He was a tough guy and a Hall of Famer who liked his steaks raw -- not rare.

I could go on and on and on, but that would turn this column into book. That is another matter for another day.

But when the Broncos face the 49ers and make new history this week, just remember that all history is relative to time. The past is always preamble to the future, as today is to tomorrow.