Owner Pat Bowlen names John Beake as General Manager and Dan Reeves as Vice President of the club.
Doomed by the tiebreaker
To this day, the 1985 Broncos stand as the best team, by record, to miss the playoffs since the 1978 expansion to 16 regular-season games and 10 playoff teams.
Eventually, those Broncos were joined by the 2008 New England Patriots. Both teams finished 11-5, but lost tiebreakers for the playoffs. In both cases, other teams won divisions with 8-8 records.
In 1985, it was the Browns who took advantage of a weak AFC Central to make the postseason while the superior Broncos stayed home, consigned to seeing the 11-5 Jets and Patriots duel in the wild-card round — and then watching the Browns face the Dolphins in the divisional playoffs.
“It just doesn’t feel fair that you could be 11-5 and two weeks from now be watching a team that’s 8-8 play in the playoffs,” linebacker Tom Jackson said at the time
The Broncos had won a rare Friday-night season finale at Seattle to finish with 11 wins, then came home to watch the Sunday games. Powerless to control their future, they saw the Patriots beat the Bengals and the Jets take out the Browns.
“It really feels unfair. I just don’t know any other way to put it,” said Jackson after the Broncos’ fate was sealed.
The Broncos would eventually make two Super Bowls with that same 11-5 regular-season finish. In 1985, it was good for nothing but a lump of coal in their holiday stocking. Shortly after the season, Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, the chairman of the league’s Competition Committee, announced there would be no changes in the postseason format just because the Broncos had been victimized by it.
“If you happen to lose out in the tiebreaker, that’s the way it is,” said an unapologetic Schramm. His own team was one game worse than the Broncos, but made the postseason, finishing 10-6.
A year later, the same regular-season record paved the way for the team’s second AFC title. But in 1985, it sent them home for Christmas.