DENVER — In the football world, Head Coach Vic Fangio is what they call a lifer.
He's coached in the NFL for 33 years, and he's followed the pro game for most of his life.
In that way, he's gained a great appreciation for the sport's history, from his time as a young spectator to the early years of his career coaching future Hall of Famers and now as a head coach helping to shape the future of the game.
On Friday, the game lost one its finest players when Broncos legend Floyd Little died at the age of 78. And Fangio, who grew up watching him, lost one of his first favorite players.
"Floyd was a great player," Fangio said. "I remember him when I was a kid watching him, and he was one of my favorite players growing up. Great player. Sad to see him go. One of the all-time great Broncos."
During the Broncos' first game since Little's passing, the team honored his life by wearing helmet decals bearing his retired No. 44 uniform number and by holding a moment of silence before the game in his honor. Fangio also wore a No. 44 patch on the back of his hat.
Fangio and the team previously honored Little in November after a win over the Dolphins. Before the game, one of Little's close friends announced that he was entering hospice care after a lengthy fight with a rare cancer. The Broncos sent him a game ball, signed by members on the team, including President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway.
"Floyd," Elway wrote, "you are the best ever!"