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Way Back When: A 'golden age' for the Broncos and Niners


Whenever the Broncos play the San Francisco 49ers, that week evokes a lot of memories for me.

But one of the strongest is from that period in the 1980s and 1990s when we had a great and friendly rivalry.

It was the period of Mr. B and Eddie D.

Both Pat Bowlen and Eddie DeBartolo were young NFL owners noted for truly caring for their players and — frankly — for spending whatever it took to win.

Eddie D went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016, and there is every hope and expectation that Mr. B will join him there in February.

Pat Bowlen is the first and only pro football owner with 300 wins in his first 30 years, and DeBartolo won an unprecedented five Super Bowls in his 23 years owning the 49ers.

Of course, both owners went back to back with Super Bowl titles as well.

One of our popular players of the era, Bill Romanowski, went back to back on both teams.

Our most successful coach ever, Mike Shanahan, had a Super Bowl winning stint with Eddie D before returning to the Broncos and Bowlen.

Both owners figured greatly in the international growth of the game.

The 49ers played in eight American Bowl games during the common Mr. B and Eddie D eras, and the Broncos followed with seven.

It seemed like international games, prime time and Monday Night Football all were owned by the Broncos and 49ers.

The owners reveled in it, were generous in every way, and it was a true golden age for both teams and the NFL.

The quarterbacks were named Elway, Montana and Young, and the postseason did not take place without them.

The Broncos were the only AFC team to go to three Super Bowls in the 1980s, including one crushing loss to the 49ers, but the rivalry had great mutual respect.

So when I think of Denver playing San Francisco, thoughts of Mr. B and Eddie D are always foremost in my mind.

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