The First Orange Monday


The Denver Broncos, who will be wearing orange jerseys to open up their 2011 season tonight, encourage all Bronco fans to wear orange also.  Can you imagine what the television audience will think when they see all that orange throughout the stadium?

The fascination with orange obviously reached a high in 1977 when the talented Bronco defense peaked and became known as the Orange Crush.  The start of the love affair with orange started years earlier when the Raiders visited Denver on October 22, 1973 to face the Broncos on Monday Night Football.  Like the Broncos continue to do today, the Bronco organization urged their fans to saturate the stadium with orange.  Hence, it became known as Orange Monday.  The Raiders had already appeared on Monday Night Football but the Broncos, who were entering the sixth game of the season with a record of 2-3, were making their first appearance on the nationally televised show.

Two major scoring plays that highlighted the first half were an 80 yard fumble return by Bill Thompson that gave the Broncos a 7-0 lead and undoubtedly brought all the Bronco fans to their feet, and an 80 yard touchdown pass from Raider quarterback Ken Stabler to Mike Siani, which gave the Raiders the lead 10-7.

Bronco field goal kicker, Jim Turner, kicked three field goals during the game.  Turner’s final field goal of the game was 35 yards and tied the game 23-23, which would be the final score since the NFL had not implemented overtime.  So, the Broncos first Monday night appearance did not result in a win or a loss but rather a tie.  Even though the Broncos did not improve in the win column that Monday night in 1973, they continued to win the hearts of many Bronco fans, and they moved a step closer to being the franchise they are today.

The Broncos managed to go unbeaten the next five games (4 wins and 1 tie) before losing to the Dallas Cowboys in early December.  Following a week 13 win over the Chargers in San Diego, the Broncos played the Raiders to end the 1973 season.  The AFC West Championship was on the line but the Broncos were beaten 21-17, giving the Raiders first place in the AFC West.  The Broncos, who ended the season 7-5-2, tied for second with the Kansas City Chiefs.  The 1973 Bronco season, which initiated Orange Monday, was also the first winning season in franchise history.

The Raider/Bronco series, which began in the American Football League, thankfully continues today and has provided many memorable games – both in the regular season, as well as the playoffs.  Will tomorrow’s game provide more memories?  The Raiders hold the advantage 50-40-2 and
have won four out of the last five games.  In 2010 the Raiders outscored the Broncos 98-37.  Being outscored by the black-and-silver by 61 points last year, combined with a large amount of orange in the stadium tonight, will hopefully motivate the Bronco coaches and players.

For any football fan who doesn’t totally understand the heated rivalry between the Raiders and Broncos, click here to see the Monday Night Football introduction prior to a 2003 matchup between the Broncos and Raiders.   Are you ready for some football?!

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