In the fourth of Thin Air’s series on considerations for the Broncos Ring of Fame is Joe Collier (1972-1988).
I feel that the case for Joe Collier in the Ring of Fame is very solid, and the main reason he’s not in already is due to the complicating factor of his presence on the Ring of Fame committee itself. But Jeremy thought it would be a good idea to open up a discussion on Collier since his tenure with the Broncos goes back before some of us were even born. Such a discussion seems perfect for a Friday morning just after we discussed another defensive-minded coach in Wade Phillips.
Before Collier’s arrival in 1972, the Broncos had one of the worst histories among NFL teams at the time. During his tenure, the Broncos then finished no worse than 2nd in the AFC West only three times. The decline of the Chargers and especially the Chiefs helped, but those damned Raiders were still ruining things with dominating the division in the mid-1970s.
That finally came to an end in 1977 when the Orange Crush had fully ripened. You know the end result that season: the Broncos’ first playoff appearance, AFC West title, and Super Bowl appearance, all at the expense of the Raiders. From 1976 to 1979, and again in 1981, the Broncos were in the top half on defense in both yards and points.
It’s often quoted that the Broncos have more Super Bowl appearances than losing seasons under the tenure of Pat Bowlen. A similar quote can be said for Joe Collier: under his tenure, there were three Super Bowl appearances (1977, 1986, and 1987) and only three losing seasons (1972, 1975, and the strike shortened 1982).