Recently the Broncos welcomed a special first-time visitor to UCHealth Training Center. Henry Bell, one of the original Broncos from the team's first roster, was a halfback for the Broncos in 1960, recording 43 rushes for 238 yards over 10 games. He and his son Dino took a tour of the facility, which is quite a far cry from the team's first headquarters back in 1960. After the tour, they sat down with us for a brief interview.
Ben Swanson: The Broncos, as they were in 1960, obviously didn't have this kind of funding or facilities. What's it been like to take a tour and see how much the team has grown?
Henry Bell: "It's amazing. We didn't have none of this. We had nothing like this. We'd just go out and play football."
BS: I think I read that you had not played college football before entering the league — which was not uncommon at the time — but how did you find yourself making that leap to pro football?
HB: "I got a scholarship to Kansas State but I couldn't [attend] … and then I played service ball, and I made All-Army. … A guy came up to my house — I lived in Redondo Beach — and said, 'They're coming out with a new football league. Would you like to play?' I said, 'Yeah!' His name was Dean Griffing."
BS: How organized was the league at that time?
HB: "There wasn't any [organization]. It was, 'There's a football game. Get together and go out there and play.' The money was good! The quarterback was [Ring of Famer Frank] Tripucka, and we had a good team, I think."
Dino: And where did you do training camp, School of the Mines?
HB: "Yep, School of the Mines."
BS: Were you living in Denver year round at that time?
HB: "Yeah. On Tuesday or Wednesday, we went downtown on West Colfax, and now you can't even get on West Colfax. And that's where we lived at. But you can't get near it. People, people, people. It was an experience, and I enjoyed it very much."
BS: I heard that you have turf toe because when you got it, no one knew what it was at the time. Is that true?
HB: "They didn't know. … They didn't touch it. That came against the San Diego Chargers."
BS: Does it still bother you a lot?
HB: "Yeah! If I hit it. You can look at the difference between that and this [between his feet]. Turf toe. The doctors didn't even know what turf toe was, did they?"
BS: What did you think of the uniforms at the time? The colors and socks weren't very popular, as I understand it.
HB: "We didn't think about socks, you know. We wanted to play football."
BS: What kind of pride do you have coming back here and being able to say you were one of the first Broncos?
HB: "All the pride in the world."