Welcome to PredominantlyOrange’s new series, “Remembering the Broncos”. In this series, we’ll go back in time and spotlight former players in Denver Broncos history who may not have been Hall of Famers but who were perhaps underrated and more than left their mark in the Bronco canon.
Today, we’re talking Trevor Pryce.
The Denver Broncos selected Pryce in the 1st round of the 1997 NFL Draft. It was the team’s first draft pick, following the epic letdown of a playoff loss they suffered to the Jacksonville Jaguars just months before. Had the team not lost that game, they very likely would have gone to the Super Bowl and faced the Green Bay Packers. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
1997 was meant to be, however. Pryce contributed to the defense as a rookie, appearing in 8 games. Although he only notched 2 sacks as a rook, he shot through his rookie learning curve quickly. His 1st season culminated in a throwdown vs the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII.
The Broncos were big underdogs. Everyone expected the reigning league MVP, Brett Favre and the Packers’ offense, to dismantle the Broncos’ defense and keep the game out of reach for the aging John Elway and the run-heavy offense.
But Pryce and the defense came to play. And at the end of the day, just like David and Goliath, the Broncos dropped the Packers and earned the franchise’s 1st ever World Championship.
Pryce probably felt like the world was his oyster. Come into the league, win the Super Bowl. No problem. If that was the case, he probably felt like he was 10 feet tall and bulletproof following the 1998 season that saw the Broncos repeat as Super Bowl champs, as they thrashed the Atlanta Falcons, and former Broncos Head Coach, Dan Reeves.
But ’98 saw Pryce begin to turn the corner and begin to realize his vast potential. He started 15 games and notched 8.5 sacks and was a major contributor to the Broncos’ defensive success. Playing with the likes of Steve Atwater, Neil Smith, Alfred Williams, Bill Romanowski, John Mobley, and Tyrone Braxton, left an indelible mark on Pryce. It helped to form him as a young defensive lineman.
In 1999, things had changed for the Broncos. John Elway retired, which altered the entire landscape for the organization. Although the team went 6-10 and missed the playoffs, Pryce shined. He scored 13 sacks and not only earned a trip to the Pro Bowl, his first, but also All-Pro honors.
In 2004, Pryce only appeared in 2 games as he suffered a back injury that led to season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc. Who knows what the Broncos could have achieved that year, had Pryce been healthy and on the field. They ended up getting blown out by the Indianapolis Colts for the 2nd consecutive year in the Wildcard round.
Over the course of his career as a member of the Denver Broncos, Pryce put together an Hall of Fame-caliber career. In 9 seasons, he notched 64 sacks, earned 4 (consecutive) trips to the Pro Bowl and 3 All-Pro selections.
At 6’5, 290lbs, Pryce was a physical freak. He was explosive off the edge, but also had the wherewithal to kick inside and make a huge impact.
Following the highly successful, but ultimately disappointing 2005 season, Pryce was waived by the Broncos. He ended signing with the Baltimore Ravens and notched 13 sacks in 2006. He was back to form, but unfortunately, it wasn’t in the Orange and Blue.
I wish Pryce could have played out his entire career in Denver. He is one of the best defensive players the Broncos have ever had. In 2009, even though he was no longer a Bronco, Pryce was named to the Denver Broncos’ 50th Anniversary team by the fans. Pryce thanked Broncos Country with a personal message in the Denver Post.
Dear Bronco fans,
You cheered for me and now I cheer for you. Thank you so much for this prestigious honor of naming me to the 50th anniversary team, one that I am humbled by and will cherish for the rest of my life.
Thank you all once again,
Trevor Pryce #93 and family
A classy gesture by a classy guy. We’ll always appreciate Pryce’s contributions to the Denver Broncos. He helped us to become 2-time Super Bowl Champions. He played with aplomb and intensity and honored the Broncos, and the fans, when he’d make a trip to Honolulu. Here’s a Mile High Salute to you, Mr. Pryce.