ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Former Broncos tight end Eugene Prebola, who played for the Broncos for three seasons during the franchise's early years, passed away on Dec. 10 at the age of 83, his family announced Friday.
Prebola started 40 of his 42 games in Denver from 1961 through 1963 and recorded 1,419 yards and four touchdowns on 100 receptions during that span. Prior to joining the Broncos, he spent a season with the Raiders and caught the game-winning touchdown from Tom Flores to beat the Houston Oilers in the franchise's first-ever win.
His pro football career followed a stellar collegiate one, as his family notes in his obituary.
"Gene thrived as a two-way starter for the Terriers, earning the moniker 'the best end in the East' by coaches and opponents," they wrote. "He was named All-New England first team and All-East honorable mention. A highly versatile athlete, Gene also lettered for the 1957-58 Terrier basketball team. The culmination of his college, and subsequent professional career, was his induction into the Boston University Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Hudson County NJ Hall of Fame in 1997."
Following his football career, Prebola settled into family life in Sparta, New Jersey, where he and his wife, Patricia, raised four children. He was a high-school teacher and a coach for 32 years in New Jersey, devoting his second career to making an impact on children.
"His big presence and bigger heart made a lasting impression on his students," his family wrote. "Wherever he traveled — from coast to coast — there was always someone who recognized 'Mr. Prebola.'"
He is survived by his wife, their four children — Karen, Kenneth, Keith and Kristopher — and their spouses and nine grandchildren.