As the Denver Broncos gear up for their second preseason game and travel to face the Seattle Seahawks, I have to admit that the loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl is barely on my mind.
First of all, we came back just two years later to temper the memory of that loss with a triumph in Super Bowl 50, but more than that, my Seattle memories go back to the beginnings.
In fact, the Seahawks are not even the first pro football team with that name. The Miami Seahawks were a pro football team that played in the All-America Football Conference in 1946, the league's first season, before the franchise was relocated to Baltimore. The Seahawks were the first pro football team in Florida, and the original Seahawks spawned the original Baltimore Colts.
There are too many historical aspects of that to delve into here.
But when the current version of the Seahawks were created as a National Football League expansion team in 1976, they were in the National Football Conference for their first year. And the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were in the American Football Conference that first season, as the NFL planned to then have them switch in 1977, which they did, and evaluate what worked best.
So as it turned out, the Seahawks stayed in the AFC Western Division as rivals of the Denver Broncos through 2001 — 25 seasons. But to many Bronco fans, it still seems like they are a division rival.
When the Seahawks left, it not only put them back in their original conference; it also created a division, the AFC West, that to this this day is the only one with the exact same teams that it had in 1960: Denver, Kansas City (formerly the Dallas Texans), the Las Vegas Raiders (former the Oakland, then Los Angeles, then Oakland Raiders), and the Los Angeles Chargers (representing Los Angeles in 1960, then moving to San Diego and now back in LA).
We have no idea what notable occurrences will take place in this preseason game between the current Broncos and Seahawks, but I well remember the game that kicked off preseason in 1983.
That game was the first in the career of future Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway.
There were 53,887 fans on hand for Elway's debut that Friday night, and I can still remember the fans' "oohs" and "aahs" when Elway took the field to play the second half. I can still remember his gait as I watched him trot onto the field from my press box vantage point.
One of the writers in attendance that night was Doug Looney of Sports Illustrated. (Can you imagine SI sending a writer to a preseason opener?)
But, in fact, Looney, a Boulder resident, had spent the entire week at our Greeley training camp, as his role was to interview Elway, follow Elway and record everything possible about our new superstar quarterback. When Sports Illustrated came out the following week, Elway was on the cover.
The Broncos won the game, 10-7, but the mere presence of Elway completely trumped the final score.
I have no particularly vivid memories of our other preseason games at Seattle, but we played the Seahawks in a memorable regular-season game at old Mile High Stadium.
It was the fourth game of the 1979 season, I was in my second year with the team, and Broncos head coach Red Miller had been under a lot of fan pressure to name fan favorite Norris Weese as the team's starting quarterback ahead of future Ring of Famer Craig Morton. He did name Weese as the starter, and we began the season 2-1, but it all started to fall apart against the Seahawks, and they had what seemed like a commanding 34-10 second half lead.
Red asked Morton to go into the game in relief of Weese, and at first the proud Morton declined ("I'm not going to go clean up this mess"), but after a few minutes his competitive spirit took over and he essentially said, "Put me in, Coach."
Less than seven minutes later, Morton had thrown three touchdown passes and the Broncos were within one score.
The stadium was vibrating so much from the stomping by Bronco fans that several Seahawk personnel people came to me and actually asked if the press box was safe, or if it might collapse from the violent vibrating.
I assured them that it was fine, but on the field, the die was cast. The Seahawks were done.
We got the ball again and Morton engineered a more routine drive that culminated in the late Rob Lytle scoring what proved to be the winning touchdown in the south end zone.
After he scored, a great moment in Broncos history took place.
Bob Peck, who had hired me but at that time had a brain tumor from which he would not recover, was sitting in a wheelchair against the South Stands wall, and rather than celebrating with a spike of the ball, the ever classy Lytle trotted over to Peck and gave him the football.
The comeback by Morton, the game, the moment beyond the end zone with Lytle and Peck, these are all lifetime memories for me, even though they happened more than forty years ago.
And all that drama happened within about 15 minutes of time on the game clock.
It shows once again that you never know what will happen in a game, and preseason or not, and the only way to make sure you do not miss the moment is to watch it all.
Broncos versus Seahawks, Saturday night.