The Broncos are represented at the annual AFC-NFC Pro Bowl in Honolulu by center Tom Nalen, defensive tackle Trevor Pryce and fullback/special teams player Detron Smith.
Farewell to old Mile High
It was time to say goodbye to the only home the Broncos had ever known.
Whether it was known by “Bears Stadium,” “Denver Mile High Stadium” or just “Mile High Stadium,” it had been home for 41 seasons, from the days when it was a hastily expanded minor-league baseball stadium to a towering, triple-decked edifice on the west, north and east sides with the raucous South Stands setting the tone for the entire crowd, filled with passionate fans who didn’t spend much time sitting on their bleachers.
No one wanted to miss Mile High’s final party. And the Broncos were up to the challenge, walloping the 49ers 38-9 to cap an 11-5 season that saw them overcome a shoulder injury to quarterback Brian Griese to return to the playoffs after one year away.
The Broncos went 7-3 with Griese in the starting lineup in 2000, and his passes helped Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey become the first 100-catch pair of receivers in Broncos history. The emergence of rookie running back Mike Anderson helped the Broncos overcome Terrell Davis and Olandis Gary’s injuries, and the offense returned to its 1997-98 peak efficiency, even without free-agent departure Shannon Sharpe.
But Sharpe loomed in the playoffs. He’d signed with the Baltimore Ravens, who roared through the season with a 12-4 record, earning home-field advantage for their wild-card showdown with the Broncos. Sharpe came back to haunt the Broncos, going 58 yards with a catch-and-run for a touchdown that helped doom Denver to a 21-3 defeat.
Griese’s injury kept him out for the game, and backups Gus Frerotte and Jarious Jackson struggled, combining for just 135 net passing yards, which included 43 yards lost on five sacks. The Broncos’ return to the playoffs was a short one, but with Griese healing, the team was confident that a return to Super Bowl heights lay ahead in their new stadium.
But getting back to championship contention would take far longer than anyone anticipated.