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'It will bring back a lot of memories': Randy Gradishar, Billy Thompson, Rick Upchurch honored by Orange Crush-inspired throwback jerseys

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A trio of Broncos from the 1977 Super Bowl XII team said they feel honored by the introduction of Orange Crush-inspired uniforms.

Hall of Famer Randy Gradishar and Ring of Famers Billy Thompson and Rick Upchurch expressed their appreciation Monday as Denver revealed its new throwback set.

"Bringing back the classic uniforms celebrating the 1977 team and the Orange Crush defense is just a great honor to us who played during that era," Gradishar told on Monday. "I want to thank [Owner & CEO] Greg [Penner], [Owner] Carrie [Walton] Penner and the rest of the Broncos organization for making that decision. That was an exciting time for the state of Colorado as we put the Broncos on the map. Hopefully, we can renew that kind of history and make our way back to the Super Bowl."

Gradishar, who earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1978, said the Broncos were "setting the stage" in 1977. Denver's famed Orange Crush defense allowed 16 touchdowns and less than 11 points per game in 14 regular-season contests.

The 2024 Hall of Fame electee was one of four first-team All-Pro selections and one of five Pro Bowlers on the Broncos' 1977 defense. Thompson, who recorded a team-high five interceptions in 1977, earned his lone first-team All-Pro honor en route to a Super Bowl appearance.

Looking back nearly five decades later, Thompson expects to be reflective when the Broncos take the field in their throwback threads.

"It was a time when the team was really starting to do some good things, and for them to honor that, that's pretty cool," Thompson said. "It will bring back a lot of memories."

And while Upchurch played on the other side of the ball, the three-time first-team All-Pro said he believes the return of the 1977 jerseys can inspire an Orange Crush-level of play.

"I think it's great to honor the tradition of the Denver Broncos organization," Upchurch said. "Those are the original uniforms that started the winning. Bringing these classic uniforms back now gives us back the Orange Crush foundation."

Broncos players show off the team's 1977 throwback uniforms in a recent photo shoot.

The Orange Crush's influence didn't end with the design of the jersey; Broncos President Damani Leech said Gradishar provided insight as they built out the throwback look.

"I think once, early on, we knew wanted throwbacks to be a part of the uniform, our next goal was to be as historically accurate and authentic as possible," Leech said Monday. "Randy's been great all along, talking to us, meeting with our staff, telling us stories about that 1977 season."

Leech and the Broncos also featured Gradishar alongside cornerback Pat Surtain II in their throwback reveal video.

"It was fun being with Patrick and having that video produced," Gradishar said. "We had a lot of fun with that, and of course I had to teach Patrick a little bit, because I'm way older than he is. I shared some information about the Broncos going to the first Super Bowl and putting the Broncos on the map."

Soon, Surtain and his teammates will don the throwback jerseys for the first time. The Broncos can wear the throwback jerseys and alternate Midnight Navy jerseys a combined three times in 2024, and Leech said the team will work toward a uniform schedule after the NFL schedule is released.

Whenever the Broncos wear the Orange Crush throwbacks, it will surely be an honor for Gradishar, Thompson, Upchurch and the rest of the 1977 Broncos.

Take an in-depth look at the Broncos' 1977 throwback uniforms that honor the Orange Crush era.

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