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Sacco Sez: Who was the quarterback when you became a Bronco fan?


Just about everyone who follows pro football has a favorite team.

For those born here or raised here to those thousands of transplants, that team is the Broncos.

For those new fans, either by age or a recent move to Denver, Russell Wilson is the guy. One of the greatest quarterbacks of this generation, playing in his prime, he is the face of the franchise and one of the primary faces of the NFL.

It is always about the quarterback. The singular skilled position player in the game, he is the only player in American team sports who touches the ball on every play.

I was checking Twitter a few days ago and saw an interesting post asking who the Broncos had at quarterback when one first became a fan.

Due to age and often geography, every single person came to fandom at a different time.

So, with no wrong answers, the question is posed: Who was the quarterback when you became a Bronco fan?

For me, it was Ring of Famer Frank Tripucka, back at the beginning. Many fans would cite John Elway, one of the most significant figures in the city and state, and I would suggest, even in the time zone.

But it does not denigrate Elway to say that many fans began their Broncos fandom years before his arrival in the Mile High City.

Someone cited his fandom as beginning with the "original number seven, Craig Morton."

Morton preceded Elway and played six years here, but that Ring of Famer was not Denver's "original" number seven. That belongs to Mickey Slaughter, one of the legion of players that came after Tripucka and before Morton.

Slaughter was saddled with a bad team around him and achieved no real success here. But he did have a notable moment in football. After his playing days, Slaughter went back to his alma mater, Louisiana Tech, as quarterbacks coach. There, he tutored Terry Bradshaw, who went on the Pro Football Hall of Fame and led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl wins.

As I wrote earlier, there is no "right" answer to this exercise.

But at that moment when each of us became fans, there was someone playing quarterback — Tripucka, Slaughter, the late John McCormick, the ill-fated Steve Tensi or maybe Ring of Famer Charley Johnson. They all played here and contributed in one way or another.

But there is no question that for most fans who became such during the 1980s or later, the answer is John Elway or Peyton Manning.

And now, after another period in which a litany of players tried and came up short, it is Russell Wilson. He checks all the boxes in terms of talent, leadership and the elusive "it" factor.

Every fan has a quarterback, and the coming years will see many new fans coming to the Broncos with Russell Wilson being the answer to that question.

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