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Broncos mourn passing of former QB Steve Tensi


Former Broncos quarterback Steve Tensi, who started more than 30 games across four seasons with Denver from 1967-70, has passed away.

He was 81 years old.

Tensi joined the Broncos in 1967 after the team acquired him in a trade from the San Diego Chargers, and he started 32 games in four years for Denver before injuries forced him to retire.

In 1967, Tensi threw a career-high 16 touchdown passes in his first season in Denver. Two years later, he posted a career-best touchdown-to-interception ratio in 12 starts in 1969.

In 1969, Tensi ranked in the top five in the AFL in passing touchdowns and passer rating.

Tensi also started a pair of games in 1970, which marked the Broncos' first year in the NFL after the AFL-NFL merger.

Before his time in Denver, Tensi starred at quarterback for Elder High School, and he also played forward on his undefeated high school basketball team. Born in Cincinnati, Tensi received 28 football scholarship offers and four basketball offers before deciding to attend Florida State University.

Tensi met his wife, Barbara Jean, during the first day of freshman orientation in Tallahassee, and they eloped on Feb. 9, 1963. They remained married for 61 years.

On the field, Tensi led the Seminoles to a 9-1-1 record and a Gator Bowl win during his senior season. He earned MVP honors for throwing five touchdowns in the Gator Bowl, and that FSU bowl record remains intact. Tensi was inducted into the Florida State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Gator Bowl Hall of Fame in 1995.

After being drafted by both the AFL's Chargers (30th overall) and NFL's Colts (224th overall), Tensi signed with the Chargers and began his AFL career.

After retiring from the professional football, Tensi worked as a quarterbacks coach for Wichita State University for a pair of seasons and later coached wide receivers for the World Football League's Chicago Fire. Tensi then began a career in construction, first in Miami, Florida, before moving to Boone, North Carolina in 1988.

Tensi is survived by his wife, Barbara Jean; siblings, Marilyn, David and Larry; children Barbara, Steve Jr., Holly and Jonathan; and more than a dozen grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The family will hold a celebration of life on March 23 in Boone. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Tensi was born on Dec. 8, 1942.

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