As this week’s throwback jerseys have made it into their lockers, the Denver Broncos players can understand why there was a bonfire to burn them.
The Broncos and Patriots will wear throwback uniforms for Sunday’s game to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the AFL. The Patriots got the better end of that deal.
Denver’s uniforms will be yellow shirts with brown numerals, brown pants and the most infamous part of the 1960-61 style outfits: vertically striped yellow and brown socks.
“The design is awful,” tight end Daniel Graham said.
Gene Mingo was one of the original Broncos players. He wore the colors in the first-ever AFL game between the Broncos and Patriots in 1960, and scored the game-winning points on a punt return for a touchdown. He said opposing fans would heckle the team and said they looked like clowns because of the hideous socks, but Mingo said he still loves the jerseys because he was proud to be a pro football player.
"You can talk about this brown and gold all you want,” said Mingo, who wore the jersey at a press conference Wednesday and will be an honorary captain for Sunday’s game. “It means a lot to me."
Jerseys won’t be the only throwback aspect of Sunday’s game. The Patriots will be referred to by their original “Boston Patriots” name throughout the game, cheerleaders will wear old-time uniforms and the program cover will have an early AFL feel. And Broncos coach Jim Saccomano said the vertical socks are a hot seller at the team store.
“I’m not upset I’m not wearing the vertical socks, but I think it’s a neat thing for the league to wear the throwback uniforms,” Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said. “You might feel a little funny for half of pregame warmups but I think it’s a great thing for the league.”
Players aren’t quite as excited to wear the uniforms.
“I love them, what are you all talking about?” safety Brian Dawkins said tongue-in-cheek. “It is what is. Whether you like them or not, it is what it is.”
Beating to remember
Last season, the Broncos went to New England and got embarrassed.
That loss stands out for cornerback Champ Bailey. He watched the second half on the sideline, out with a groin injury, and he said he was bothered by the team’s lack of desire and confidence. Denver lost 41-7 and Bailey unloaded on the team after the game.
A year later, things are much different.
“I think it was a wake-up call for some of the guys that held on from last season,” Bailey said. “We’ve got people in here that want to win and it starts at the top.”
Bailey was referring to coach Josh McDaniels, who has earned the all-pro corner’s respect.
“I mean he’s a guy that is going to have you as prepared as you can be for a game and that’s something that throughout my 11 years I haven’t had a lot of,” Bailey said according to the Patriots’ Web site. “I’ve had some great coaches including (Mike) Shanahan, but he’s definitely one of a kind in the way that he approaches the game.”
Running back Correll Buckhalter was held out of practice with an ankle injury. If he is out this week, Knowshon Moreno likely will get his first NFL start, but LaMont Jordan and perhaps Peyton Hillis also will get some extra carries.
“It is one of our deeper positions, and we have got a lot of guys ready to go,” quarterback Kyle Orton said.