ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Pandemic aside, the Broncos coordinate their alumni weekend with the Ring of Fame ceremony nearly every year but there is an extra enticement to lure most of the former greats back this year.
An orange jacket.
Not only are the Broncos inducting coach Mike Shanahan into their Ring of Fame on Friday night with the unveiling of his pillar and a dinner at Empower Field at Mile High, but all of the team’s 34 Ring of Famers – family members for those former greats who have passed away – were invited back to receive their new orange blazers as a keepsake for their elevated stature with the organization.
Like the gold jacket and the bronze bust that go to all the Pro Football Hall of Famers in Canton, Ohio, the Broncos’ Ring of Famers now receive and an orange jacket and pillar of their likeness at the Broncos’ Ring of Fame Plaza.
“It’s an extension of Mr. Bowlen and what he used to do,’’ said Chris Tripucka, who will accept the orange jacket Friday night on behalf of his late father Frank Tripucka, the Broncos’ first quarterback whose No. 18 is one of three numbers retired by the Broncos. “Everything is first class from handling all the details to get you here, to the different functions that they have. I think the jacket thing is a great idea. I’m glad to see coach Shanahan go in, he definitely deserves it. Great man. We’re always honored when they invite us. I just wish dad was here so he could go himself.”
Besides Shanahan’s ROF pillar ceremony Friday night, the alumni will attend the Broncos’ practice Saturday and have lunch at the team’s UCHealth Training Center headquarters. Then there will be a huge gathering at the Shanahan mansion on Saturday night.
“We have 21 years of people coming,’’ Shanahan said in reference to his time with the Broncos as an assistant and head coach. “We have coaches and people who have been on the staff. Lot of guys you dealt with on a day-to-day basis. When you’ve been lucky enough to have had some success over the years – we’ve got a lot of guys who are coming who are looking forward to seeing some of their former teammates, former coaches. A lot of wives will be together. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing everybody.”
The Broncos will then host their alumni in a private box or two for their game Sunday afternoon against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Ronald Darby will play Sunday and he may start at cornerback Sunday against the Raiders. After the difficult game Kyle Fuller had last week against the Steelers, the Broncos’ top three cornerbacks against the Raiders figure to be Darby, Pat Surtain II and Bryce Callahan. …
Special teams gunner Mike Ford (knee) has been ruled out for the game against the Raiders. Running back Melvin Gordon III (hip), safety Kareem Jackson (back) and outside linebacker Aaron Patrick (ankle) are listed as questionable.
Jackson was a full participant in practice Friday and was listed as questionable only because the league no longer uses the “probable” distinction. Patrick didn’t practice Friday after spraining his ankle in practice Thursday and may have a difficult time making it Sunday. Gordon was listed as questionable for a third consecutive week, but has not missed a game. He practiced Thursday and Friday on a limited basis.