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Broncos Alumni Marvel At The 'Palace' That Is Team Headquarters

DENVER (CBS4) - "I think anybody who played in the past says, 'Oh, back in the day.' " – Gary Kubiak

When several dozen former Broncos players gathered at training camp this week they had mostly nice things to say about the Broncos facilities.

"This is a palace, ours was a trailer," said Broncos Ring of Fame member Rick Upchurch (1975-1983), remembering his training camp facilities. "We were just happy to get a piece of a turf."

Dove Valley Expansion
(credit: Denver Broncos)

"It is fantastic," said fellow Ring of Fame member Gene Mingo (1960-1964). But when asked if he likes it: "I say I hate, it, because it was nothing like this in my day, these guys have everything out there man."

And from former coach Red Miller: "When I was a coach it was a Quonset hut that we couldn't even get them all in."

So it's safe to say things have changed quite a bit since Miller coached the team in the late 1970s, when Upchurch was returning kicks, and certainly big changes since Mingo and the Broncos debuted back in 1960.

Red Miller
Red Miller (credit: CBS)

"We had one horse trough with a whirl pool and one trainer," Mingo remembered. "Our weights were buckets of cement with a steel bar that we used for lifting weights."

"These guys have it easy, this is a country club," said Upchurch. "It is a country club guys, believe me it is a country club."

Rick Upchurch
Rick Upchurch (credit: CBS)

As the former Broncos watched practice from the VIP viewing deck, or inside the air conditioned lounge, they may have noticed several current players getting the day off.

Emmanuel Sanders explained the current philosophy: "Kubiak is one of those guys where he's pretty much saying, 'Hey look, take your time. If you're hurt, you're hurt.' We don't rush back."

Not exactly how they used to do it.

Gene Mingo
Gene Mingo (credit: CBS)

"We were wearing pads twice a day, scrimmaging twice a day, there was no break," said Mingo. "To make the team you had to do whatever the coaches said."

Miller says his practices were a lot more physical.

"Hitting, you could get in condition with hitting and that's what we were after," Miller said. "This is like touch football; I don't mean to be demeaning or anything."

No offense taken from the current players, but also no complaints from the Dove Valley Country Club members.

"Kubiak last night in team meetings pretty much told the vets that we don't have to stay in our hotel. Everyone starts screaming, 'We love ya! We love ya!' He's been really good to us," Sanders said.

"Back then, if I recall, we were taking 110 guys to training camp. When we lined up to practice, we had a fourth, fifth team. We had so many guys to go around," said Kubiak.

"It's totally different. Would I have had pads on today? Probably not."

Mark Haas is CBS4's weekend sports anchor and sports reporter. Read his bio or follow him on Twitter @markhaastv or on Facebook.

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