ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Robert "Red" Miller, the former Broncos head coach who changed the trajectory of the franchise 40 years ago, passed away Wednesday morning. He was 89 years old.
Miller, who was elected to the Broncos' Ring of Fame in May, transformed the Broncos' fate during his four seasons as head coach of the team.
After taking over as the eighth head coach in Broncos history in 1977, Miller led the Broncos to a 40-22 regular-season record and a 2-3 playoff mark over four years.
In that first season, Miller put together a year that was unlike any before in Denver.
Photos from the coaching career of Ring of Fame head coach Red Miller. (Photos from AP Images unless noted)
Miller's Broncos earned a 12-2 regular-season mark and captured Denver's first division title. In their first trip to the playoffs, the Broncos beat the reigning Super Bowl-champion Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship to make their first Super Bowl appearance.
Following that 1977 season, Miller was named the NFL Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and K.C. 101 Club. "Our deepest sympathies go out to Red's entire family, especially his wife, Nan," Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis said. "Red was a beloved member of the Broncos' family. He left a great impact on this franchise by laying the foundation for our championship tradition and was so proud to be part of our first Super Bowl team 40 years ago.
"You could tell how much the Broncos meant to Red, and he's meant so much to everyone here. Red was overjoyed to get that phone call in May notifying him of his Ring of Fame selection, and we're all very saddened that he won't be able to join us when we honor him in November."
Miller would lead the Broncos to another AFC West title in 1978, and his teams qualified for the playoffs each year from 1977-79.
During his time leading the team — fueled by the Orange Crush defense featuring Paul Smith, Randy Gradishar, Tom Jackson, Louis Wright and Billy Thompson — Miller never had a losing season.
Miller will be inducted posthumously as the 32nd member of the Broncos' Ring of Fame on Nov. 19, when the Broncos host the Cincinnati Bengals. Many of Miller's former players will be in attendance.
Miller is survived by his wife, Nan; son, Steve; stepson, Jeff; and five grandchildren.