In ’77, award-winning author Terry Frei compellingly argues that the AFC champions
of that season were the tipping point for the transformation of Colorado’s capital from
an outpost with an inferiority complex to today’s sports and entertainment mecca.
As in his acclaimed earlier books, Frei—a rookie Denver
newspaper reporter in
1977—displays a historian’s ability to place sports within the context
of evolving politics,
culture, and society.
voluminous research, many hours of interviews, and firsthand knowledge
of both the city and football, Frei profiles such legendary '77 Broncos as Randy Gradishar,
Lyle Alzado, Louis Wright, Billy Thompson, Tom Jackson, Craig Morton,
Moses—but he doesn’t
stop there. As the often groundbreaking narrative of that Denver
season continues, even the most fervent of Broncos fans from that era will come to more
intimately understand both the stars and the
lower-profile players they thought they knew,
and the uninitiated will marvel at these compelling stories up and down the roster.
all here: Tom Jackson’s notorious taunt of Oakland coach John Madden (“It’s all over,
fat man!”); the journeymen quarterback and receiver, Morton
and Moses, becoming the
Connection,” and Morton’s amazing courage
to even make it on the field for the AFC
Championship Game; and Gradishar and Wright again experiencing the sort of stellar
seasons that should have landed
them in the Hall of Fame.
it didn’t happen in a vacuum. Frei describes Denver’s transformative
politics that year—when Richard
Lamm was a young and controversial governor
and Bill McNichols was one of the last machine-style mayors—plus the metro-area
culture in the late 1970s as
the Broncos, for so long one of the NFL’s most downtrodden
franchises, progressed toward their first Super Bowl.
The portrait emerges of a football team as
uniquely influential in the transition of a city
smarting over the decision not to host the 1976 Winter Olympics—a campaign
Lamm led as a self-proclaimed “hippie”
legislator. Certainly there have been many
other teams in many sports that generated and earned fanatical support, won a lot of
games in glorious seasons,
and fleetingly brought a city together, but after this
Denver would never be the same again. And although
the '77 Broncos came up
short of an NFL
championship, they were part of an atmosphere that was far different
than the Denver of the late 1990s, when the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup
and the Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowls.
Maybe you had to be there to truly understand
it. So if you weren’t, Terry Frei
you there. If you were, '77 is a replay from countless heretofore unseen
angles. As unique as this tale is, it also has its elements
of universality for
just sports fans—anywhere.