DENVER --On the cusp of watching his 870th Broncos game in person, Broncos Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Saccomano was honored for his 36 years with the team.
Just before kickoff, a cloth conceiling a plaque in the south end off the press box was removed. It featured Saccomano's likeness and a message -- officially, the press box at Sports Authority Field is now the Jim Saccomano Press Box. He was also honored on the field during a break in the first half.
"Today is a great day for the Denver Broncos and for Jim Saccomano," Broncos President Joe Ellis said. "This is a well-deserved honor."
The plaque was created by sculptor Brian Hanlon, who also helped mold the 24 pillars in the team's newly unveiled Ring of Fame Plaza.
"It's so surreal -- I'm taken aback," Saccomano said as the plaque was unveiled. "Good grief is all I can say."
Saccomano will retire at the end of the season, transitioning into a consulting role with the club from there.
The longest-tenured pro sports administrator in Colorado history, Saccomano elected to thank several groups of people upon receiving the honor.
"I want to thank every member of the press – print, electronic, network, social, every single one that I've ever dealt with, big or small, over this period of time," he said. "I want to thank all the players, all the coaches and administrators. I want to thank my family and so-forth. I particularly want to thank the crews here now -- Patrick Smyth, Rebecca Villanueva, Erich Schubert."
But he wanted to thank a few more people in particular.
"My mother's 99 and has no idea that this is happening, my dad is long gone. But I want to thank them," he continued. "I want to thank (former Broncos Owner) Gerald Phipps, who brought me aboard. I thank (Broncos Owner & CEO) Pat Bowlen, who was the kind of guy who doesn't micromanage and lets you do your job. I thank (Broncos President) Joe Ellis, not just because we're standing here. His vision, foresight – it's tremendous. And most of all, I thank my wife Joann – who, for my whole career, gave her permission and consent to me putting the Broncos and the press ahead of our family. Thank you."
During his 36 years with the Broncos, Saccomano has worked 26 Super Bowls — 21 with the NFL's public relations staff and five more with the team, including its back-to-back World Championships (1997-98). He has chaired the NFL's media relations and international committees and has served on the league's postseason, radio-television and special projects committees.
He has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the inaugural Pete Rozelle Award (1990), given annually to the NFL's outstanding public relations staff, and the Charlie Callahan Award for Public Relations. In 2010, he was recognized with a lifetime achievement award from the Order Sons of Italy in America Colorado Foundation.
Saccomano graduated with honors from Metro State in 1970 and earned his master's degree in journalism from the University of Colorado in 1977. He was recently awarded an Honorary "C" from CU during halftime of the Buffs' football game against USC on Nov. 23 for his many contributions to his alma mater.
An author of four books about the Broncos, Saccomano worked three years with the Denver Bears, a minor league baseball team, prior to joining the organization.
"Everybody makes a lot of sacrifices in our organization," Ellis said, "but nobody made more than Jim Saccomano."