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Way Back When: Here come the Texans!


When the Denver Broncos play the Houston Texans this week, it is a matchup between one of the original American Football League teams (the Broncos) vs. another of the original AFL cities (Houston).

But for most readers of this article, that is ancient history. However, like a lot of history, it carries right through to today.

There are and have always been ties between the Broncos and the city of Houston.

Today, Denverites fancy themselves as fashionable in every way, so few realize that back in the day, Houston oilman and Oilers owner Bud Adams gave a big OK to Denver staying in the fledgling AFL.

The Broncos developed and prospered, like the runts of a litter, while the Houston team won the first two AFL titles.

But the Broncos and Denver just kept on growing, and eventually we traded for John Elway, the Prince of Palo Alto.

And in the very same year, the Broncos drafted a Texas A&M quarterback who had gone to high school at St. Pius in Houston. That was Gary Kubiak, and he was almost an afterthought in competing with Elway.

Except the Broncos kept both, with head coach Dan Reeves describing Kubiak as essentially an extra coach on the field.

Take a look through Broncos history with photos from their games against the Texans.

So Houston gave us our backup quarterback, but Kubiak proved to be so much more than expected. He was Elway's backup for all three Super Bowl appearances in the 1980s, generally regarded as the best backup quarterback in football during that time frame.

Reeves might have been the first to call Kubiak a "coach on the field," but it was Gary who made Denver and Houston proud. He did go into coaching, and championships followed Gary wherever he went, from alma mater Texas A&M to a world championship in San Francisco with the 49ers.

Then he came back to Denver as a coach on Mike Shanahan's staff, becoming an integral part of our back-to-back Super Bowl titles as the Broncos' offensive coordinator.

Of course, when John Elway was later looking for the ideal man to lead the Broncos, Gary came back and led us to a win in Super Bowl 50.

And in between those stints in Denver, he had led the Houston Texans as their head coach, as well.

Amid the comings and goings, Houston's Wade Phillips had also spent the better part of a decade in Denver, including two years as head coach of the Broncos himself.

Naturally, just by virtue of the size of Texas, the Broncos have had a lot of players and coaches from Houston.

And it just seems fitting that Klint Kubiak is on Denver's staff right now, in his second stint as one of our assistant coaches.

When the Broncos face the Texans this week, it will be a matchup of the only two teams that have always had home sellouts during their time in the NFL. The Broncos began their sellout streak with the first game of 1970, which also was Denver's first year as an actual member of the NFL, after the two leagues merged. And the Texans, of course, joined the NFL as an expansion team in 2002, never having to go through the attendance growing pains associated with early years of pro football.

So while the teams have not had a lot of on-the-field rivalry, there have been plenty of connections between the cities of Denver and Houston in pro football.

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