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Way Back When: The Broncos and the Cowboys


This week, the Denver Broncos head to Texas to play the Dallas Cowboys.

What can be more American than football, and what can be more of the American West than Cowboys and Broncos?

The first three times Denver visited Dallas was back in the American Football League, to play the Texans — a different franchise — owned by AFL founder and visionary Lamar Hunt.

At that time the Cowboys were a National Football League expansion team with a losing record.

Remember Eddie LeBaron at quarterback and running back L.G. (Long Gone) Dupre?

It's OK that you don't; neither do most fans of the modern game.

But the Cowboys had a star on their helmets and head coach Tom Landry. Landry, a future Hall of Famer who always (always) wore a tie, sport jacket and hat in public, would see that the Cowboys grew into the star.

They won championships and had star players, and the latter spawned a great history with the Broncos.

When we won our first AFC Championship and went to Super Bowl XII, our quarterback was Craig Morton, originally a first-round draft choice of the Cowboys, and fittingly, they were our first Super Bowl opponent. The Cowboys won, but no one would have guessed at the soon-to-be-illustrious history of the Broncos.

But Denver hired Cowboys great Dan Reeves as head coach, and between his playing career in Dallas and his coaching career in Denver and Atlanta, there is no question Reeves belongs in the Hall of Fame.

And of course, two years after hiring Reeves, we traded for quarterback John Elway.

Denver became the only AFC team to go to the Super Bowl three times in the 1980s, a testament to the fabulous talent of Elway and to the leadership of both quarterback and coach.

In fact, of all the Super Bowls played to date, the Broncos and Cowboys together have played in more than a fourth of them.

Each franchise has had a Hall of Fame owner: Pat Bowlen in Denver and Jerry Jones in Dallas. Each franchise has had Hall of Fame quarterbacks: John Elway and Peyton Manning in Denver, and Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman in Dallas. Each owner put his team in a new stadium: Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, and "Jerry's World" (aka AT&T Stadium) in Dallas.

Also, the growth and vision of Jones is shown by the 2016 creation of the Cowboys' headquarters, The Star, which is by far the largest and most glamorous team facility in the NFL.

Right now, both teams are fighting hard to work their way back to the playoffs. Most experts say the Cowboys are closer, but you never know.

The old adage is correct: That is why the games are played on the field, not on paper.

And when legendary franchises, each with eight Super Bowl appearances, take the field against each other, with playoff contention wide open for both, anything can happen.

From the above listed names to the current stars on both teams, we can watch the present while taking a look back through the memories of time.

The Broncos and Cowboys, each of whom started play in 1960, never could have known 61 years ago what the future would hold.

This week is part of that future, a piece of the present rolled up into the seams of history for both the Broncos and the Cowboys.

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