Rick Dennison has always been a brainy guy, making Second Team Academic All America @ Colorado State as a linebacker/tight end, where he also earned a master’s degree in civil engineering. His senior year, he received the Merrill-Gheen Award as the university’s outstanding male scholar-athlete. I’ve heard Kubiak and Elway both say he’s one of the smartest people they’ve ever met. That’s the type of player he was, too. Dennison was quick to diagnose plays from his LILB spot, but @ 6’3″, 220 pounds in an era when inside backers typically carried more ballast, Dennison was weak at the point of attack. He was still so heady he earned a starting job.
Unfortunately, he was blocking Bowlen’s Folly, clubhouse lawyer Ricky Hunley on the depth chart. In a major mismatch, Bowlen prevailed over Joe Collier in a battle of wills and Dennison was benched so Ricky Hunley could misread keys and overrun plays and bite on the Hog’s counter trey 22 times one afternoon in San Diego. While it’s true Hunley never played another game for the Broncos after helping make Timmy Smith the answer to bar trivia, he was actually dumped because he ran afoul of Dan Reeves during the bitter lockout that took NFL players off the field for four games of the 1987 season. So did Meck and some other guys, but Dan needed them to win ballgames.
While Hunley was washing out of the league in AZ and with the Raiders, Dennison moved back into the starting lineup, this time @ RILB and he started for two more years. Give Dennison better physical tools and he probably would have started here for a decade. In total, Rick Dennison spent 26 years as a Bronco. Nine seasons as a player and 17 as a coach. He was with the team for all three world championships and six of eight AFC championships.