Adults are in control again at Dove Valley.
Coaches who belonged at the kids table have left the building.
The Broncos now have six coaches in critical positions who are sexagenarians or approaching 60; were youths in the turbulent ‘60s, and came of age about the same time this franchise did in 1977 and beyond.
They remember the Vietnam War, peace protests, assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, Watergate, Woodstock and the first man on the moon.
They’ve heard of Randy Gradishar and Tom Jackson, and they watched “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.”
They have coached a combined 205 seasons in high school, college and the pros (144 years of experience in the NFL). They’ve coached in Super Bowls, Pro Bowls, Senior Bowls, and even coached teams that went into toilet bowls. They’ve been here before, there in New Orleans and Green Bay and New York and almost everywhere (with 28 other NFL teams).
They’ve come around and been around.
They are coach Vic Fangio (61 on Aug. 22), defensive coordinator Ed Donatell (62 on Feb. 4), defensive line coach Bill Kollar (67 on Nov. 27), inside linebackers coach Reggie Herring (60 on July 3), offensive line coach Mike Munchak (59 on March 6) and tight ends coach Wade Harman (56 on Oct. 1).
The young special teams coordinator, Tom McMahon, is in his early 50s, and the younger offensive coordinator, Rich Scangarello, is only in his late 40s.
As the league goes crazy for child coaches, John Elway, who will be 59 his own self June 28, has turned to mature leadership, direction and knowledge for the Broncos.
Sort of reminiscent of Joe Collier, Stan Jones, Alex Gibbs and good ol’ boy Wade Phillips.
This set of venerable, veteran coaches will teach the young’uns well — the players and a dozen junior members of the staff.
That’s the opinion from someone who has covered 12 previous full-time, interim and fill-in coaches, and hundreds of assistants over 44 seasons — from Dennis Allen to Bob Zeman, Jim Bob Cooter to Jack Del Rio, Ed Donatell in two previous eras (Mike Shanahan and Josh McDaniels) to Max Coley, the only assistant to call me and say the offense wasn’t his fault, Babe Parilli to four guys named Smith.
In 1984 the Broncos hired a wunderkind named Shanahan to coach Elway. Mike was a good choice. Elway thought a year ago Shanny would be a good choice again, but that agreement wasn’t finalized. Still, the Mike Shanahan tree has branches reaching out over the league — Gary Kubiak, Matt LaFleur, his son Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, who multiple franchises seek to clone.
Scangarello, the Broncos’ latest offensive coordinator, quit his college job to study at the feet of Kyle Shanahan. So, there will be keepsakes of Mike Shanahan scattered through the playbook and the play-calling.
Early in December, ESPN asked a panel of NFL writers to vote for the best candidates for head-coaching jobs. Lincoln Riley was No. 1, Josh McDaniels No. 2, and Vic Fangio and Mike McCarthy No. 3 (tie). Mike Munchak was ninth.
The Broncos got two of those coaches, and wanted nothing to do with one of them. Been there, done that. Fangio has just been selected the 2018 assistant of the year.
When The Gazette published first that Fangio would be the Broncos’ new coach, detractors scoffed that he was ancient and declined to believe the hiring would happen. Broncos Country and NFL Nation has reacted enthusiastically, particularly after Fangio was able to persuade Munchak and Donatell to join him and Kollar and Herring to stay. Those are Four Horsemen.
Fangio will take them to the senior early-bird discount at the local buffet restaurant. Maybe rocking chairs will be installed in the coaches’ offices, and they can wear tie-dyed T-shirts to the first OTA sessions while Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth’’ blares over the speakers. Milk of Magnesia can become a Broncos’ sponsor. Depends. “The Old Man And The Sea’’ should be required reading.
But nobody’s going to be laughing at the Broncos’ Senior Citizens Coaching Corps in 2019. Amateur Hour is over.
In Denver, football has become a game for the aged.
Grown-ups have taken over the Broncs.