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.

But just southeast, the new stadium rose throughout the 2000 season. And on Dec. 23, the Broncos brought down the curtain on Mile High Stadium, routing the 49ers in front of a crowd that saw zero — that’s right, zero — no-shows.

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.

2000 schedule

Date Opponent Score
9/4 at st. louis rams 36-41
9/10 atlanta falcons 42-14
9/17 at oakland raiders 33-24
9/24 kansas city chiefs 22-23
10/1 new england patriots 19-28
10/8 at san diego chargers 21-7
10/15 cleveland browns 44-10
10/22 at cincinnati bengals 21-31
11/5 at new york jets 30-23
11/13 oakland raiders 27-24
11/19 san diego chargers 38-37
11/26 at seattle seahawks 31-24
12/3 at new orleans saints 38-23
12/10 seattle seahawks 31-24
12/17 at kansas city chiefs 7-20
12/23 san francisco 49ers 38-9
12/31 at baltimore ravens (afc wildcard) 3-21

The Broncos conclude season ticket renewals and waiting list additions for 2000, leading to an anticipated 31st consecutive season of sellouts at Mile High Stadium

2000 offense

Pos Player Starts
qb gus frerotte 6
qb brian griese 10
rb mike anderson 12
rb terrell davis 4
fb howard griffith 14
wr ed mccaffrey 16
wr rod smith 16
te dwayne carswell 16
te desmond clark 2
c tom nalen 16
t tony jones 16
t matt lepsis 16
g lennie friedman 8
g dan neil 16
g mark schlereth 8

Broncos rookie running back Mike Anderson becomes just the ninth player in NFL history to rush for more than 100 yards in each of his first two NFL games

An Historic Farewell to Mile High Stadium

The Broncos play their final game ever at Mile High Stadium, defeating San Francisco 38-9 before the second-largest crowd in the stadium’s history, 76,098. It was the largest crowd ever for a Broncos regular season game, and those in attendance were treated to an outstanding performance from the home team on this historic day.

2000 defense

Pos Player Starts
de harald hasselbach 1
de kavika pittman 15
de maa tanuvasa 16
dt trevor pryce 16
dt keith traylor 16
lb glenn cadrez 3
lb john mobley 14
lb bill romanowski 16
lb al wilson 14
cb terrell buckley 16
cb ray crockett 11
cb jimmy spencer 6
s eric brown 16
s billy jenkins 16

Record: 11-5
Second place, AFC West