An estimated 650,000 fans gathered in downtown Denver for a victory parade and rally to honor the World Champion Denver Broncos.
ELWAY’S PERFECT ENDING — AND A SECOND WORLD TITLE
Go out on a high note. Leave the audience wanting more. From Broadway shows to George Costanza telling a joke at Kruger Industrial Smoothing, everyone with an audience aspires to depart the stage to a loud, appreciative ovation, rather than pity, scorn, or relief.
Most endings are of the latter kinds. In sports, we think of Willie Mays not getting to balls while with the New York Mets, or Joe Namath unable to avoid a pass rush while wearing the blue and yellow of the Los Angeles Rams. In Denver, fans recall two-time National League MVP Dale Murphy finding no power in his last-ditch attempt to get to 400 home runs with the Colorado Rockies, or former Cowboys star Tony Dorsett playing for the Broncos in 1988 without the breakaway speed that defined him for 11 Hall of Fame-worthy seasons in Dallas.
That’s what made Super Bowl XXXIII so special for the Broncos, Elway and their fans.
The Broncos won, 34-19, in a game that was not as close as the score indicated, capping a season that saw the Broncos rip off 13 consecutive wins at the start of the season. Two December defeats to the Dolphins and Giants were hiccups, but by the postseason, the Broncos were rolling again, winning their three playoff games by an average of 21.0 points apiece.
One was nice. Two Super Bowl wins marked a dynasty and put the Broncos alongside the 1966-67 Packers, 1972-73 Dolphins, 1975-76 and 1979-80 Steelers, 1988-89 49ers and 1992-93 Cowboys.
Elway won the game’s MVP award. Owner Pat Bowlen held aloft his second Lombardi Trophy, turned to the Broncos fans at Pro Player Stadium and declared, “This one’s for you!”
When Elway retired three months later, it was emotional, but it wasn’t a surprise. Injuries and the accumulation of wear from a life spent playing football had exacted a toll. The only mountain left to climb would have been leading the Broncos to a third consecutive NFL title, which would have made them the first team to accomplish such a feat since the 1965-67 Green Bay Packers.
But in the previous two years, Elway had proven with trophies that he had the championship mettle that many so long ago predicted.