ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --It has been reported that former Broncos defensive tackle Dave Costa passed away earlier this week. He was 71.
Costa first joined the Broncos in 1967, making the AFL All-Star game for his first three years with the club before the franchise joined the NFL in the 1970 merger.
He served as the team's defensive captain in each of his five seasons with the club, playing in 70 games and starting at least 56 -- starts weren't tallied his first season in Denver.
In the team's 1968 media guide, then-coach Lou Saban said, "We could use about a dozen more Costas."
His career began in Oakland after the Raiders and Rams both drafted him in the AFL and NFL drafts, respectively. He chose the Raiders, and recalled a story for Sports Illustrated when Al Davis told him, "You are going to be so great they'll have to build another bridge to handle the crowds that come to see you play."
He was a runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 1963.
Costa paced the Broncos' defensive linemen in tackles in his first year with the club in 1967, and in 1969 led the team in "tackling the passer" with 12 sacks.
In 1970, he was part of a defensive unit that ranked third in the league against the run and third in the AFC in total defense. That year, the defense set 15 club records while Costa was credited with 66 tackles and 11 quarterback takedowns.
According to Sports Illustrated, in his final year with the Broncos, he sacked quarterbacks six times, made 41 tackles and "harassed the quarterback" to make him throw the ball early 39 times. He also recovered 13 fumbles in his career.
Costa was featured in Sports Illustrated multiple times, perhaps the most interesting instance of which profiled Dave Costa's All Stars -- the Broncos' offseason basketball team.
Seventeen Broncos took turns playing on the team, which was called Dave Costa's All Stars because Saban didn't want the basketball team using the Denver Broncos name.
Costa served as the coach of the team, and he told the publication he was always willing to sign autographs for fans after the games.
"We're grateful for our fans, and we're very close-knit with them," Costa said. "I'll worry when they don't ask me to sign programs."
In total, Costa played 12 seasons in the AFL and NFL -- three with the Raiders, two with Buffalo, five with Denver and two with San Diego.
The Broncos' thoughts are with Costa's family and friends.