Klee: Formula for Super Bowl success? Just ask TD, the Broncos great

By: Paul Klee
January 11, 2014 Updated: January 12, 2014 at 7:05 am
photo - Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis holds the Lombardi trophy in the air after Denver beat the Green Bay Packers 31-24 in Super Bowl XXXII Sunday, Jan. 25, 1998, at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium. (AP Photo/Hans Deryk)
Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis holds the Lombardi trophy in the air after Denver beat the Green Bay Packers 31-24 in Super Bowl XXXII Sunday, Jan. 25, 1998, at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium. (AP Photo/Hans Deryk) 

DENVER - How did Terrell Davis and those Broncos do it?

The secret to their Super Bowl success is revealed.

"I'm going to be real honest with you," TD said over the phone.

Visions of TD touchdowns are rushing through my head, classified strategies to unplug the Chargers and arrest the Patriots and cage the Colts and bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Colorado. Here it comes.

"It was the uniforms. That's how we won those Super Bowls. The uniforms we had in '96 were awful. Just awful. In '95 and '96, those uniforms we had were hideous.

"But in '97, man, we were sleek. We looked good. We flew around faster. We were a better team! I don't know if we win our Super Bowls if we don't change our uniforms."

The Broncos open the playoffs at home against the Chargers.

Do you know of a screenprinter open Sundays?

In 1997, the Broncos changed their uniforms. They won back-to-back Super Bowls.

They had TD. TD was That Dude. During the Super Bowl seasons, TD rushed for 36 touchdowns and averaged 121.2 yards per game. He saluted.

Those Broncos were Too Dynamic, Twin Dynasties, Totally Dominant.

Those Broncos had been heartbroken. In 1996, the Jaguars left them Totally Devastated: Jacksonville 30, Denver 27.

"I remember sitting on the bench, watching the teams leave the field, and I could not believe what had just happened," said TD, who rushed for 1,750 yards and was the NFL's offensive player of the year that season. "The raw emotions of how that felt, it was painful. It never leaves you. You don't ever want to feel that again. I remember after the Jacksonville game thinking, 'I'm never going to let this happen again.'"

That is what Peyton Manning's Broncos must do. They must do what John Elway, Steve Atwater, Shannon Sharpe, Rod Smith, Alfred Williams and TD's Broncos did.

They mustn't forget: Baltimore 38, Denver 35 (2OT).

The Mile High Mistake was one year ago Sunday. These Broncos must collect those "raw emotions," as TD put it, and turn the football nightmare into postseason dreams.

After the '96 Broncos lost to Jacksonville, they entered the '97 playoffs without pressure, TD said. In their first playoff game, they thumped the Jags, 42-17.

"There was absolutely no pressure on us when we returned to the playoffs. In fact, we could not wait to get back in the playoffs," said TD, now an analyst with NFL Network.

"I have a feeling that is the same way this Broncos team is feeling. They have to remember how they felt last year against Baltimore. I get the sense that this team is looking at it as an opportunity, not as a situation where there's pressure."

How will these Broncos return to the playoffs?

TD offered a good point: those Broncos had to wait a year to exact revenge for a loss to Jacksonville. These Broncos lost to the Chargers, 27-20, just one month ago.

"They have a chance to do something about it now. It helps them that they lost to San Diego a few weeks back. They don't have to wait a year to get them back. Those feelings are there."

In 1997, the Broncos lost two games in December. In 1998, the Broncos lost two games in December. Both won Super Bowls. These Broncos lost once in December, to San Diego, and won their other four games in the final month by an average of 18.5 points.

"There is nothing like a quality loss in late November and December. For me, I loved it in '97 and '98 when we had those losses in December. I had no problem with that. I felt good about that. It takes the pressure off," TD said.

"You're not trying to lose a game. But when you go 11 weeks straight without losing a game, there are things seeping into your game that you ignore, because you're still winning. The coaches might notice that. But as a player, you think because you're still winning games, everything's fine. But once you lose, it all stops. You refocus."

TD was a wealth of touchdowns - 53 over three seasons, from 1996-98.

TD is a wealth of first-hand experience on comebacks.

He said the comeback of Knowshon Moreno, another running back, likely was motivated when the Broncos selected other running backs in consecutive drafts.

"He's got some dog in him," TD said. "That's good to see."

TD's comeback came in the second half of their first Super Bowl win. He suffered from migraines that turned him blind. The first play after halftime - a fumble recovered by Green Bay - remains spotty.

"It was pitch to the left, a '19 Toss,'" he said.

He remembers his Super Bowl-record three rushing touchdowns.

"What happened with my migraines is my vision would go (away). So once it comes back, it was like being in HD. Everything was crystal clear. I've gone an hour without seeing anything. So when I got it back, I could see the play develop on a different level. It was amazing."

The Pro Football Hall of Fame should come back to TD. It borders on football crime he's not in there already.

"Do you have a vote?" he said.

Unfortunately, no. TD wasn't among the 15 finalists for the Hall of Fame class of 2014.

"Not making the Hall of Fame, that can't take away from anything I achieved," he said. "It can only add to it."

TD said the Broncos will come back from their loss to San Diego and beat the Chargers on Sunday at Sports Authority Field.

"It's going to be hard for anybody to beat Denver twice in their own stadium in the same season."

These Broncos must channel their inner TD. How did those Broncos do it?

They changed uniforms, and the final result.

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