Nancy Miller recalls Denver Broncos’ first Super Bowl

Resident Profiles
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Posted: April 9, 2024

Miller happy for Randy Gradishar’s Hall of Fame induction

If you paid a visit to Nancy Miller’s apartment at the Holly Creek Life Plan Community in Centennial, chances are you would be greeted by her friendly cat named Bubba. One of Bubba’s favorite rooms is where Miller keeps some very special memorabilia – a guest room filled with trophies, NFL game balls and photos of her husband Red Miller.

Yes, that Red Miller. The Red Miller who helped lead the 1977 Denver Broncos to their first Super Bowl, spearheaded by the fabled Orange Crush defense and All-Pro linebacker Randy Gradishar.

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Miller shooed Bubba off a large scrapbook filled with Denver Post headlines and photos that bear witness to that magical ’77 season. She turned the page to an article headline that reads, “Number 53, again” which analyzed how good Gradishar and his fellow linebackers Tom Jackson, Bob Swenson and Joe Rizzo were against the run.

“Red coached with Joe Collier at Western Illinois University where they forged a lifelong friendship,” said Miller. “As the Bronco’s defensive coordinator, Joe pushed the Phipps brothers (owners of the Broncos at that time) to hire Red as the new head coach.”

“When Red became Denver’s head coach, the defense was good, but the offense was not. Once Red got quarterback Craig Morton into Denver, that made a huge difference and the team became much more balanced on both sides of the ball,” Miller added.

Miller went on to talk about Red’s mantra which was “we are all one team.” “What that meant is that offense, defense and special teams all worked together for the common good of the entire team, and his one team philosophy also stressed the importance of backup players.”

When asked about her thoughts on Gradishar and his upcoming induction into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame, Miller replied, “It’s about time!”

“I was familiar with Randy and other players before I married Red in 1985, through my involvement with the Denver Broncos Quarterback Club,” Miller said.

The Denver Broncos Quarterback Club hosted luncheons and dinners at the old Mile High Stadium for die-hard Broncos fans and often had the head coach talk to fans at these events before home and away games.

“I’ve seen Randy Gradishar many times over the years through the Broncos alumni association. The bonds between old Broncos players are very strong because in the 70s into the 80s players would play for one team their entire career. Randy Gradishar and Tom Jackson are so close, they are like brothers,” Miller said.

In Denver, Miller is not alone when she describes how special 1977 was and feels Gradishar’s Hall of Fame induction is long overdue.

“1977 was a magical year and all those Broncos were wonderful, standup people. You won’t meet a better person than Randy Gradishar. Randy was one the greatest linebackers to ever play the game and led by example on and off the field,” Miller said.

Photo of Randy Gradishar and other Denver Broncos from 1977 season

Miller met Red at the Quarterback Club and the two became acquainted in the mid-80s after Red had divorced and left football.

“We connected at rehab place, I was rehabbing an elbow and he was rehabbing his knee,” she said. “Red didn’t want to leave Denver. He moved 16 times during his coaching career and chose to stay in Denver and became a stockbroker.”

During that time, Miller had a career with IBM in Denver, where she started as a librarian, then served as a personnel coordinator and ultimately oversaw community outreach, matching employees with projects in the community and helping nonprofits.

After Red passed in 2017, he was inducted in the Denver Bronco’s Ring of Fame. “Red knew he was going into the ring of fame and that mean a lot to him,” Miller shared. “As did visits from his old players including Randy Gradishar.”

Miller adopted Bubba after Red’s passing and together, they share her remodeled two-bedroom apartment and a lifestyle that keeps them busy socially.

“I knit with Holly Creek knitting group Needles and Threads, where we make booties, blankets, hats and gloves for newborn babies, and I’ve been a member of the Koebel Library knitters for the last 25 years,” she said. “I also help organize gatherings for former IBM employees.”

Just like Gradishar, who rarely missed a tackle, Miller never misses watching the Broncos play and is optimistic about both the new Broncos’ ownership and head coach Sean Payton.

“I think the Walter-Penner folks and coach Payton embrace a one-team philosophy, like Red did,” she shared. “Everyone contributes and does their part for the greater good of the team, to get those wins and to achieve the ultimate goal of going to another Super Bowl!”

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Holly Creek Active Senior Living Community is owned and managed by Christian Living Communities and is a full service life plan community. We offer active Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care as well as Skilled Nursing, and Rehabilitation. Holly Creek Active Senior Living Community is located in Centennial, Colorado and services the areas in and around Greenwood Village, Englewood, Columbine, Cherry Hills Village, Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Heritage Hills, Meridian, Dove Valley, Stonegate, Parker, Aurora, Lakewood, and South Denver. We also are an ideal senior community for those in the zip codes 80122, 80120, 80121, 80111, 80130, 80126, 80129, 80112, and 80124.

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