Broncos bring back the “D” as they unveil true throwback uniforms

Apr 22, 2024, 9:52 AM | Updated: 9:52 am

Broncos throwback uniforms...

(Photos by Gabriel Christus / Denver Broncos)

(Photos by Gabriel Christus / Denver Broncos)

The new uniforms of the Broncos may not represent what every fan would have wanted. But their throwback uniforms are built to please.

And if you didn’t get what you wanted from the uniform unveiling earlier Monday, you’ll likely receive it from the addendum announced barely a half-hour later.

Not long after releasing their new uniform set comprised of orange, white and navy jerseys, pants and socks with navy and white helmets, the Broncos announced the return of their classic uniforms worn in various iterations from 1968 through 1996 — including a lighter shade of blue and the “D” on the helmet.

It will be the first time the Broncos have won a version of this uniform since Thanksgiving Day 2001, when the team donned them for a 26-24 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Doing a thorough throwback uniform — while also having two uniforms with the primary set — became possible when the NFL granted permission for teams to add a third helmet shell to their ensemble. Teams unveiling new uniforms — including the Broncos — can do so this year. All other teams will get the go-ahead in 2025.

The Broncos can wear their throwback uniforms and their alternate navy jerseys a combined three times per regular season. They cannot wear them in the postseason, per league regulations.


… and to its president of the last two seasons, Damani Leech.

“Although we felt like we want to keep the same logo, same color, as we told you guys down in Florida, having a throwback concept was also really important,” Leech said.

Leech’s eyes lit up when he discussed the return of the classic look in which the Broncos won four AFC championships and established themselves as one of the NFL’s signature clubs in the 1970s and 1980s.

“I absolutely loved the throwbacks,” Leech said. “Like, I have wanted that since day one.”

The Broncos had myriad iterations of the basic template that they introduced in 1967, before adding the famous “D” logo They used different sock patterns over the years. The stripes on the pants and jersey sleeves changed from time to time.

By the 1990s, the Broncos had a blue-orange-blue stripe pattern on the white pants, while the gaps between the sleeve stripes had been eliminated.

So, there were plenty of options from which to choose as Broncos officials decided which throwback template would work.

In the end, they focused on the 1977 uniforms, given the significance of the year in Broncos history, as it featured the club’s first playoff appearance, division title and Super Bowl trip. It was also the apex of the famed “Orange Crush” defense that defined the era and will finally see its due representation in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when Randy Gradishar enters.

It also features complex socks that feature orange and white bands on a blue base at the top.

“Damani knows I’ve been obsessed with the socks,” Broncos chief marketing officer Hailey Sullivan said. “We were very intentional about making sure we went back to Nike twice to make sure that we were getting the exact dimensions of the socks, the dimensions of the bands, the spacing between the bands.”


Astute observers will notice that there are numbers on the shoulder pads of the jerseys — and not the sleeves, as was the case during the Broncos’ magical run to Super Bowl XII — and throughout the “D” era of team history.

This is due to how jerseys are cut today. With minimal sleeves as part of what Sullivan called the “modern chassis,” the jerseys did not have room for numbers and stripes on the sleeves.

“Back in 1977, the jersey chassis was different. The shoulders were bigger, they’re roomier,” Sullivan said. “We could not fit that here. So the numbers — again, this is part of the modern age — so, we move the number set to the shoulders.”

Also, in line with the team naming its colors — sunset orange, midnight blue and summit white — it has a name for the lighter shade of blue on the throwbacks: “Legacy blue.”

“That royal blue, beautiful color,” Sullivan said.

It’s a fitting description for a shade whose return to the Broncos’ palette will warm the hearts of many fans.

And when the Broncos wear their throwback uniforms at home, they plan to dive into the entire retro aesthetic.

“We want to immerse folks in our fan base in the throwback era,” Sullivan said. “So we’ve got a lot of fun ideas just like the way we started playing around with that last season. Depending on the theme of the game we want really want to create that immersive experiential environment.”

The Broncos can wear their alternate blue jerseys and their throwback uniforms a combined three times per season. Their fans might clamor for more. But even if they don’t get that, they’ll at least get a glimpse of a classic look that defined the Broncos from Floyd Little through John Elway.


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