What are the worst moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).
5. Josh McDaniels trades Jay Cutler
In retrospect, trading Cutler wasn’t all that bad. Cutler never made a Pro Bowl with the Chicago Bears. Denver ended up with Peyton Manning a few years later. But if there’s one move that summed up the crazy, weird and ill-conceived Josh McDaniels era, alienating Cutler and having to trade him was it. First, McDaniels unsuccessfully tried to trade for Matt Cassel (seriously) to replace Cutler, who was coming off a Pro Bowl. Then a meeting with Cutler went sideways and Cutler demanded a trade. McDaniels’ time as Broncos coach was a debacle – it even included a “Spygate II” scandal in which Denver was caught filming a San Francisco 49ers practice in London – and he was fired after just 28 games. If you want to see a Broncos fan go on a long and angry rant, ask what they think of McDaniels.
Everyone knew the San Francisco 49ers were going to destroy the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV. Still, a 55-10 loss in a game that was 27-3 at halftime was no fun. After this loss, John Elway’s third in a Super Bowl, it seemed like Elway might never get over the stigma of not being able to win a title.
3. Joe Flacco’s bomb upsets Denver at home
The best of Peyton Manning’s four Broncos teams was arguably his first, in 2012. That team didn’t make it out of the divisional round. Denver looked like it was on its way to an AFC championship game, but then Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco hit Jacoby Jones for an amazing 70-yard score with 31 seconds left to tie the game. The Broncos lost in double overtime, the Ravens went on to win a Super Bowl and safety Rahim Moore will forever be remembered in Denver for letting Jones behind him.
2. Upset by Jacksonville
You have some scars when you’ve lost five Super Bowls, as Denver has. But a divisional-round loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars (an expansion team in just their second season) at the end of the 1996 season was the biggest gut punch. Denver was a fantastic team, going 13-3 and earning home field advantage throughout the playoffs, but had a bad day against the Jaguars and Mark Brunell. Hardcore Broncos fans still remember defensive tackle Michael Dean Perry being slow to get off the field on a Jaguars’ fourth-quarter punt, which resulted in a 12-men-on-the-field penalty and gave Jacksonville a crucial gift first down. It turned out OK, as Denver used that loss as motivation and won the next two Super Bowls, but the pain of that Jaguars loss will never completely dissipate.
1. Darrent Williams shot after a New Year’s Eve party
It’s hard to describe how hard the news of Williams’ death hit Denver. Williams was a popular cornerback and a rising star on the Broncos, known for his big plays and infectious friendly personality. He had just finished his second NFL season hours before attending a New Year’s Eve party. After an argument at the party – by all accounts, Williams was trying to be a peacekeeper – shots were fired into a limo Williams was riding in. He was hit by a bullet. Williams died instantly, at age 24. Willie Clark was found guilty of Williams’ murder in 2010. The Darrent Williams Memorial Teen Center at a Boys and Girls Club in suburban Denver is a lasting tribute to Williams, as is the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award given annually to a deserving Broncos player by the media.