Wednesday’s NFL: Former Broncos coach Miller, 89, dies

Associated Press

Red Miller, the fiery head coach who guided the Denver Broncos from obscurity to their first Super Bowl, has died after complications from a stroke. He was 89.

Miller coached the Broncos from 1977-80 and compiled a 42-25 record. He’s best known as the coach who turned Denver’s defense into the “Orange Crush,” and made the Broncos contenders after nearly two straight decades of losing.

They went 12-2 in 1977, made their first playoff appearance and got to the Super Bowl, where they fell 27-10 to the Cowboys.

Along the way, Miller helped create a rivalry with the Raiders, making no bones about his hatred of the franchise that had gone 24-2-2 against Denver over the previous 14 seasons.

The Broncos showed they were for real in 1977 by moving to 5-0 with a 30-7 win at Oakland — a game in which the Broncos intercepted Ken Stabler seven times — then beat the defending Super Bowl champions 20-17 in the AFC title game.

Denver hosts Oakland this Sunday, in what has long been known in Denver as “Raiders Week.”

Earlier this year, the Broncos decided to place Miller in their Ring of Fame. He is scheduled to be recognized to cap off the franchise’s alumni week, Nov. 17.

“You could tell how much the Broncos meant to Red, and he’s meant so much to everyone here,” Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis said. “Red was overjoyed to get that phone call in May notifying him of his Ring of Fame selection, and we’re all very saddened that he won’t be able to join us when we honor him in November.”

Miller was a coaching lifer, spending time directing offensive lines in New England, Buffalo, St. Louis and Denver, and also serving two seasons as a defensive line coach for the Colts.

His hiring to replace John Ralston as Broncos head coach in 1977 was considered a surprise, but he lit a fire under a defense that included Lyle Alzado, Tom Jackson, Randy Gradishar and Louis Wright.

“We knew we had a very good team,” Broncos receiver Rick Upchurch told KUSA-TV in Denver. “But the way we came together that year when Red came in and gave us that attitude that we can win and we will win.”

While Denver’s first championship remained another two decades off, Miller helped transform the Broncos into one of the NFL’s better franchises. Denver has been to eight Super Bowls and won three.

Anthem protests

Panthers team captains and other selected players met with owner Jerry Richardson at his home Tuesday to “discuss social issues affecting the league and solutions moving forward.”

Carolina spokesman Steven Drummond said the conversations between the players and owner will remain private.

Richardson was one of the last NFL owners to release a statement in response to comments made by President Trump on Twitter regarding NFL players. The meeting was prompted by some players privately expressing frustration over not being able to express their views on social issues while playing for the Panthers for fear of potential repercussions.

... A Pittsburgh-area volunteer fire chief has lost his post after using a racial slur to describe Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

Paul Smith of the Muse fire company in Cecil Township wrote on Facebook he added Tomlin to a list of “no-good” people he describes with the slur. Smith says he was upset Tomlin had instructed his team to stay in a stadium tunnel instead of standing on the field for the national anthem ahead of Sunday’s game against the Bears.

... Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said there won’t be any suspense Sunday afternoon when the Steelers take the field for the national anthem in Baltimore. He said he is confident the Steelers will have 100 percent participation of players standing.

Personnel dept.

Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said Wednesday he met with unhappy co-owner John Mara to discuss his vulgar celebration in which he got down on all fours and pretended to urinate like a dog after catching a fourth-quarter touchdown pass in a loss to the Eagles.

Beckham would not reveal what was said.

... Linebacker Lawrence Timmons apologized publicly to the Dolphins and their fans for going AWOL on the eve of the season opener, but declined to say it won’t happen again.