“Lend-Lease” Lee and lean times for the team

The Broncos needed a quarterback for the 1964 season. They got one — albeit in a unique way — and not on a permanent basis. How it went down encapsulated all that was going awry for a team that finished 2-11-1 for a second consecutive year, which led to dwindling season-ticket sales and attendance.

In August, the Broncos sent All-AFL defensive tackle Bud McFadin, a draft pick and cash to the Houston Oilers for quarterback Jacky Lee. But the deal came with a catch: By 1966, the Broncos had to give back Lee to Houston.

Thus, Lee became known as “Lend-Lease Lee.”

It’s not a moniker he liked then — or decades later, for that matter. But it symbolized where the Broncos stood at that point. He wouldn’t have played in Houston because of the presence of veteran George Blanda, so the Oilers shipped him to Denver so he could get experience.

It didn’t do anything to help the perception of the Broncos. Some in pro football considered the AFL a minor league anyway, and a deal like this gave the appearance that the Broncos were a farm team within it.

Broncos coach Jack Faulkner was Lee’s position coach at the University of Cincinnati, so he thought he knew what he was getting. But Lee never panned out as he hoped, throwing nearly twice as many interceptions (20) as touchdowns (11) in 1964.

Faulkner was fired after Lee and the Broncos stumbled to an 0-4 opening, having won just two of 23 games after the 7-2 start in 1962. Mac Speedie took over, and Lee fell out of favor; by 1965, he was a reserve, starting just one game behind Mickey Slaughter and John McCormick.

Lee started 10 of the first 11 games in 1964, but fell out of favor under new coach Mac Speedie, and started just one game in the 4-10 season of 1965, with Mickey Slaughter and John McCormick starting the rest. He went back to Houston in 1966, with the Broncos still in the same spot — among the AFL’s cellar-dwellers.

The AFL and NBC announce a new TV contract that pays the AFL $36 million over five seasons.

1964 schedule

Date Opponent Score
9/12 at new york jets 6-30
9/20 at buffalo bills 13-30
9/27 houston oilers 17-38
10/4 boston patriots 10-39
10/11 kansas city chiefs 33-27
10/18 at san diego chargers 14-42
10/25 at oakland raiders 7-40
11/1 at kansas city chiefs 39-49
11/8 san diego chargers 20-31
11/15 new york jets 20-16
11/20 at boston patriots 7-12
11/29 oakland raiders 20-20
12/13 buffalo bills 19-30
12/20 at houston oilers 15-34

1964 offense

Pos Player Starts
se lionel taylor
lt harold olson
lg jim perkins
lg tom nomina
c jerry sturm
rg bob mccullough
rt eldon danenhauer
te hewritt dixon
fl bob scarpitto
qb jacky lee
qb mickey slaughter
hb charley mitchell
hb abner hayes
fb billy joe

Aug. 14, 1964: Broncos obtained QB Jacky Lee form Houston in “lend-lease” trade for Bud McFadin.

October 4, 1964
Jack Faulkner released as head coach

October 5, 1964
Mac Speedie accepts appointment as interim head coach

1964 defense

Pos Player Starts
le ray jacobs
lt dick guesman
rt charlie janerette
re ed cooke
re leroy moore
llb jerry hopkins
llb tom erlandson
mlb marv matuszak
rlb jim fraser
lc willie brown
rc willie west
rc john griffin
ls john mcgeever
rs goose gonsoulin

Record: 2-11-1
Fourth place, AFL West