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Woody Paige: Denver Broncos hope sevens come up lucky this season

November 18, 2017 Updated: November 19, 2017 at 7:31 am
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Former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway looks on from the bench prior to an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Seven is magnificent, memorable and meaningful in memoirs of the Broncos.

Players from the '77 team are holding a reunion this weekend to honor Red Miller - who will be officially inducted posthumously Sunday into the Broncos' Ring of Fame - and reflectively celebrate the 40th anniversary of the franchise's first Super Bowl season.

So sadly, Coach Red died Sept. 27 from complications after suffering a stroke.

Terrell Davis is being honored Sunday for his enshrinement this year in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The '97 Broncos became the franchise's first Super Bowl champions, and Davis was the game's MVP.

Ol' No. 7, John Elway, was the quarterback in five Super Bowls, including the '97 and the '87 seasons, and has been with the Broncos for, yes, seven Super Bowls as player and executive.

Other Ring of Famers include Craig Morton (7), Steve Atwater (27), Simon Fletcher (73), Rich Jackson (87), Tom Jackson (57), John Lynch (47), Paul Smith (70), Lionel Taylor (87) and Karl Mecklenburg (77).

Seven has been a very lucky number for the Broncos.

And, occasionally, star-crossed and ill-fated.

The '67 Broncos lost a team-record nine consecutive games.

The '07 Broncos won only seven games.

Then, there is the most recent of all the "7'' seasons, 2017, with a quarterback now who appropriately wears a No. 17 jersey - Brock Osweiler.

The Broncos could lose their seventh game Sunday, or they possibly could go on a seven-game winning streak to end the regular season.

7-Up, or 7-Down?

The Duke of Denver addressed the issue Friday night.

Elway's quotes over the past 35 years have been etched permanently into the Broncos' chronicles.

When I asked the rookie exec VP of football operations if he would talk to Tim Tebow before the January 2012, playoff game against the Steelers, John said he didn't want to mess with the quarterback's mind. I wondered what advice he would have for Tebow. "Pull the trigger.''

After Peyton Manning signed with the Broncos a few months later, Elway was asked what his Plan B would have been. "There is no Plan B.''

Following the postseason loss to the Colts in January 2014, Elway said he wanted a team that would go out "kicking and screaming.''

On Friday Elway spoke to the media publicly for the first time about the Broncos' five-game losing streak.

"To be dead honest, we got a little bit soft.''

The Broncos are softer than Charmin toilet tissue, a cashmere sweater, baby's breath, thistledown floating in the weak wind, the first snowfall in Vail, a dove's coo, carnival cotton candy, the sigh of a princess, a Mozart melody.

Elway somewhat contradicted himself when he said the Broncos will "continue to play hard'' and "if we work hard, good things will happen.''

The Broncos are playing squishy, squashy, soft ball.

Although he doesn't care to remember, Elway has been here before.

In 1990 he was the quarterback of a team that lost five straight games.

Then one more.

The Broncos finished with a 5-11 record, the worst of John's career.

That Dan Reeves-coached team gave up 30 or more points five times, scored in single digits twice and 20 points or below in eight games and would win only once between Sept. 30 and Dec. 16 (losing nine of 10). If Elway hadn't pulled off a couple of astonishing comebacks the Broncos would have been even more horrendous.

Reeves was close to a trade in the offseason that would have sent Elway to Washington and changed the entire course of Broncos history. Owner Pat Bowlen stepped in at the last moment and prohibited the deal.

Elway has experienced only one more losing season (1994, 7-9) in his long association with the Broncos.

This may be his first as chief football officer.

Elway will not blame rookie coach Vance Joseph, the collection of new and returning assistants or the players. "The desire is still there, and they know the expectations, and we're not out of this thing. We're not going to say 'Never' until they say 'You're no longer in this hunt.' So we've got to start on Sunday with playing well against the Bengals.''

Broncos 27, Bengals 17.

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