Hello sports fans and welcome to another CHUD DVD Battle, where two titles enter, one title leaves. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a good head-to-head (Flightplan vs. Red Eye) and when you have two similar DVD offerings such as Colts– The Complete History and Broncos – The Complete History, they’re practically begging for combat. Now normally, the Colts and Broncos would meet on a cold Sunday at Mile High or perhaps a Monday night game in the RCA Dome. And in fact, they got it on earlier this season, a seesaw contest won in impressive fashion by the Colts. But this contest ain’t about who’s got the better quarterback, receiving corps or secondary, nor is it about fantasy football implications or whether or not one of the teams beats the spread. It’s about who’s put together the better disc. But just between you and me, take the Broncos and the points.
"Okay guys, let’s go out there and kill ‘em for Elway!"
"Elway went to the Broncos because he didn’t want to play for us, dimwit!"
"Oh…well uh, let’s go out there and kill Elway and his family!"
"Okay, sounds like a plan…"
Formerly hailing out of Baltimore, where greats such as Johnny Unitas and Bubba Smith laced up some cleats, The Colts were NFL Champs in ’58 and ’59 and have one Lombardi Trophy in the front office (Super Bowl V). But they blew town in the dead of night in 1984 thanks to some shady dealings by the team owner and set up shop in Hoosierville. The Colts today are lead by Marino heir apparent, Peyton Manning, and are pretty much laying waste to the rest of the NFL with their high-powered offense. But as good as they’ve been in the Manning era, they can’t get it done in the postseason, with home losses to eventual AFC Champion Tennessee (2000) and Super Bowl XL Champs Pittsburgh (2006), as well as consecutive road playoff losses at Foxboro to the Patriots (2003, 2004).
Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos are synonymous with one name more than any other, legendary Hall of Fame QB John Elway, who took them to five of their six Super Bowl appearances. In the ‘70s, their defense was known as the Orange Crush, and Denver had a pair of phenomenal AFC Championship games with the Cleveland Browns in 1986 (The Drive) and 1987 (The Fumble). Unfortunately, both of those games preceded crushing losses to the Giants (SB XXI) and the Redskins (SB XXII), and an embarrassing 55-10 thrashing by the 49ers (SB XXIV) made three losses in the big game within four years. But during the ’97 and ’98 seasons, the Broncos rode the Elway bandwagon back to the dance with a stirring upset victory of defending champion Green Bay (SB XXXII) and a convincing win over the upstart Atlanta Falcons (SB XXXIII), capping Elway’s farewell tour.
#47: "I want Manning’s ass!"
Rest of team: "Yeah!"
#47: "I want it bad!"
Rest of team: "Yeah!"
#47: "I’m gonna plant #18 into the turf so many times he’ll be seeing stars!"
Rest of team: "Yeah!"
#47: "Then I’m going to take that 6’5" hunk of Colt manliness, pull his pants down and ass rape him ’til he calls me daddy!"
Rest of team: "Y- wait, WTF?!"
One thing that especially links these two teams is the little factoid that John Elway was drafted by the Colts in the stellar 1983 QB draft (Marino, Jim Kelly, etc.). But deciding he didn’t want to play for them, he was traded to the Broncos. Both of these discs cover the histories of the two teams in depth with several extra features.
Well one thing that makes this match up a bit unusual is that both the Broncos and Colts discs are put out by the same entity: the NFL, and their spectacular archival unit, NFL Films. Now I’ve covered several NFL Films discs recently and I say with every review, that NFL Films is simply the best at what they do: taking the fan into the world of sports (in this case football) and presenting well-written, thorough and engaging histories of players, teams, coaches and so on. They mic the sidelines and the huddles, and mix things up with bone crunching sounds of the game and excellent slo-mo recaps of pivotal action. This is the crux of what NFL Films does and like I said, they’re the best. So instead of comparing apples and oranges, what it really comes down to is comparing two apples and seeing which one tastes juicier.
Elway’s reaction that the NFL decided to put cameras in the cheerleaders’ locker room showers and show it on slow motion instant replay…
First of all, the Colts history is split into two chapters over the two discs, the history of the Baltimore and Indianapolis versions of the franchise. I’d have to say that the Baltimore version definitely has more teeth as there’s so much more history to cover with Unitas and the gang who played in a number of legendary games including The Greatest Game Ever Played and Super Bowls III and V. The Indianapolis version does a good job of covering things that have happened since the team switched area codes, but truthfully, there’s not been that much to report aside from the brief Eric Dickerson stint and also not much before the Manning era. There was, however, a great playoff run in ’95 for the Colts, led by Jim Harbaugh. They went to San Diego, knocked off the defending AFC Champ Chargers, then beat the Chiefs the next week, and played their hearts out before a crushingly failed last-minute Hail Mary against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. I remember that run and it was fun to watch, having come from Indiana myself.
Late in the fight, the Broncos were forced to bring out the big guns…
The Broncos history isn’t nearly as bipolar as that of the Colts, but they have the advantage (at least in this arena) of having their halcyon days more recently than the Colts. Of course this is dominated by the Elway era and the Colts disc does an excellent job of covering the key games and the key plays. This includes the two great playoff games against the Browns and the hurtful Super Bowl losses. But they did gloss over the 1987 AFC Championship against Cleveland (The Fumble), and that’s probably been my favorite Broncos game. And another problem with the Broncos history is that it peaks with the two Super Bowl wins and then from there, as in real life, the story goes downhill as Terrell Davis’ career is cut short by knee injuries and Elway replacement Brian Griese fails to find success in Denver. Even though the Broncos have been fielding some good teams recently under Jake Plummer, including last year, the last 10-15 minutes of the main story is a bit of an anti-climax.
It may have seemed shocking that the Broncos player pulled out a sledge hammer and started busting some Colt heads, but not so much when everyone realized it was Romanowski…
The Broncos Disc 1 features two 45-minute In Their Own Words features, one on Mike Shanahan, the other on #7. Both of these are in-depth and feature the best and the worst of both men’s careers and lets you get inside their heads as you hear them speak about their careers. Disc 2 is features two more Inside Their Own Words for John Lynch and Jake Plummer; but it’s curious that they give equal time (45 minutes) to both as neither of them has done anywhere near as much in the Broncos organization. Hell, John Lynch, who’s had a long career with the Bucs, has only been with the team since 2004. Nevertheless, the two features are good and there are also features on players Floyd Little, Tombstone Jackson and John Rolston. And the entirety of the main program of Disc 2 is a 65-minute recap of the 1986 AFC Championship game between the Broncos and the Browns that featured “The Drive,” Denver’s 98-yard odyssey to tie the game, which eventually lead to their sealing the championship in overtime.
For Colts, there’s a criminally short three-minute piece on Unitas. Johnny U. was given his props in the main story but to just allocate three minutes for him here is a travesty, I’m sorry to say. I’m not saying that I’m a big Unitas fan because his final year with the Colts was my first year anywhere; but I recognize one of the greats when I see him. Then there’s other pieces on Colts players Ray Berry, Mike Curtis, John Mackey, Big Daddy Lipscomb, Jim Parker and Jimmy Orr, as well as the ’67 Colts and Memorial Stadium that average around five minutes each. But the big feature on Disc 1 is an hour-long feature on the Greatest Game Ever Played from all angles that is well worth seeing.
"Even though I’m a former Bronco, I’ve been commentating for a long time and I can definitely maintain my journalistic objectivity. That being said, when you analyze both teams as a whole, I think you’ll find that Denver is going to kick the shit out of those bitch-assed Colt pieces of shit…"
On Disc 2, there’s a 22-minute feature on the Colts’ 10/6/03 miraculous 4th Qtr. Comeback against the Bucs, which turned out to be the greatest in NFL history. Manning gets an In Their Own Words segment, which is also around 20 minutes, and less than half of those on the Broncos disc. There’s also an 8-minute piece on former Colts coach Jim Mora. A quick little piece titled Dwight Freeney’s Lesson by the Colts defensive end shows how he goes about being a sack leader in the NFL. Capping the special features on the second disc is a 45-minute Game of the Week, a ringside seat for a game between the Colts and the Rams where Manning and Marvin Harrison set the NFL record for most touchdowns between a QB and receiver.
So when all is said and done, both discs are true to the NFL Films tradition of covering the gridiron and the storied history of both teams. It was a tough, back-and-forth battle that could have gone either way. But the Broncos rallied late in the game with slightly better features and it was the intangibles that proved to be the difference, such as not shortchanging their best player the way the Colts did with Unitas. Broncos had everything that Colts did but their In Their Own Words were a bit more prevalent and added to the bottom line. Colts could definitely have benefited by giving one of those segments to Unitas, even if it would have to be completely through archival footage as #19 has moved on from this mortal plane. This was a shootout to be sure, but in the end, the final score is