Rick Dennison: Truest Bronco of Them All


Time for a quick break from the Super Bowl no one in Broncos Country cares about.

Over the last few weeks and even years we’ve heard the phrase “welcome home” a lot.

It started with John Elway and has continued with Gary Kubiak, Joe DeCamillis, Alex Gibbs, Brian Pariani and Wade Phillips. All guys who have been part of Broncos Country in the past. All true Denver Broncos who know what this organization means to the city, state and region.

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There is one who gets mentioned but doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being the truest Bronco of them all: Rick Dennison.

It started as a linebacker for the Broncos. As it says on the team website, during his nine-year playing career in Denver, Dennison appeared in 128 games (52 starts) and totaled 514 tackles (316 solo), 6.5 sacks, four interceptions, 10 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

It then continued as a coach. Of Dennison’s 20-year NFL coaching career, 15 have been with the Broncos, including three seasons (2006-08) as Denver’s offensive coordinator. The position he holds once again.

His coaching tenure with the club started in 1995 and he held various roles with the team, including offensive assistant (1995-96), special teams coordinator (1997-2000) and offensive line coach (2001-05, ’09) in addition to his three years as offensive coordinator.

When it comes to tenure with the organization, Dennison stands supreme – even over Elway and Kubiak.

Jan 20, 2015; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway (left) greets head coach Gary Kubiak (right) prior to the start of the press conference at the Broncos training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

But this goes even deeper. Dennison went to Rocky Mountain High in Fort Collins and played football at Colorado State University. As the story on the Broncos’ website said, Dennison joined the Broncos as a college free agent from CSU, where he was named a second-team All-American as a senior. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from CSU in 1979, followed by a master’s degree in the same field from the school in 1982. So Dennison is not only a bright football mind, he really is a genius.

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Since he grew up in Fort Collins, it’s not far fetched to think Dennison also was a Broncos fan. As a linebacker, he would have had two of the best in the NFL to model his game after – Randy Gradishar and Tom Jackson. When he was in high school that would have been the beginning of what we know today as the “Orange Crush.”

Of course, all of this means nothing if Dennison also isn’t great at what he does. As is the case with Kubiak, DeCamillis, Gibbs, Pariani and Phillips – if they weren’t great at what they do, this wouldn’t work. But they are, so it makes it even better. It gets the fans even more excited.

Dennison and the rest know what the Broncos are all about. They know what Pat Bowlen’s expectations are and they want that. They aren’t scared off by the Super Bowl or else mantra in Denver. They know what Broncos Country is all about: That’s it not just a phrase or place, but a way of life.

When you add it all up, there is no truer Bronco than Dennison.

For a guy who grew up in Broncos Country, we really can say, “Welcome home.”

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Jan 22, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Rick Dennison at Team Carter practice for the 2015 Pro Bowl at Luke Air Force Base. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports