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Broncos celebrating Mike Shanahan’s coaching contributions

AP Pro Football Writer

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos are celebrating Mike Shanahan’s coaching contributions this weekend.

The two-time Super Bowl winner who holds the franchise record with 146 victories between 1995 and 2008, including eight playoff wins, will go into the Broncos’ Ring of Fame during halftime of the Raiders-Broncos game Sunday.

“Mike’s had a great impact on the game,” current coach Vic Fangio said Friday. “Obviously, he had a great impact on the Broncos organization, first as an assistant and then as the head coach. And you know his legacy has lived on through a bunch of these coaches, obviously his son (49ers coach Kyle Shanahan), Sean McVay, Matt LeFleur in Green Bay, (Kevin) Stefanski in Cleveland. He didn’t coach with him, but he coached under Gary (Kubiak), who coached under Mike and he’s doing the same stuff.

“It’s all around the league, so Mike’s been retired, hadn’t been active for the last few years, but his stuff is still active.”

Shanahan built talent-laden rosters and won two Super Bowls running his version of the West Coast offense he learned in San Francisco with the one-cut running style behind a lighter offensive line.

“When Mike was the coordinator with the Niners, that’s not actually the system he became really famous for. He incorporated some of that with what he thought,” Fangio said. “That’s what these guys are running now. Mike has had a great impact on the game and was a great head coach.”

Shanahan’s coaching tree doesn’t just consist of today’s creative offensive minds. He had an impact on defensive coaches, too.

“What a cutting edge coach,” said Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, who was Shanahan’s defensive backs coach from 1995-99. “I’ll always be grateful for the five years I spent with him.”

Donatell said Shanahan’s legacy in the league is very much a living one with so many coaches tracing their philosophies back to Shanahan’s time as head coach in Denver and later Washington.

“Just look at the tree. I can’t even name all the guys,” Donatell said. “You can start with Kyle, and there’s so many guys in between. He impacted so many guys.”

“When he came out of San Francisco, he was on the cutting edge with scheme and he ran this place as a CEO,” Donatell added. “He had full control of everything and he was a true leader. He had some great partners — Gary Kubiak, Alex Gibbs, Mike Heimerdinger. They were doing some special work together, and these guys all went on to be head coaches and so forth. It was a neat time.”

The Broncos are also celebrating Steve Atwater’s recent enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His bust was on display in Denver and he was set to receive his Hall of Fame ring in a pregame presentation.

Atwater was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2020 but wasn’t inducted until this year because of the pandemic.

Peyton Manning, a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame class, will be recognized on Oct. 31 when the Broncos host Washington.

Notes: Former Broncos RB Otis Armstrong died Wednesday at age 70, according to his family. No cause of death was given. Armstrong was the ninth overall draft pick in 1973 after a standout career at Purdue. He played eight seasons in Denver, was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro in 1974 when he rushed for 1,408 yards in a 14-game season and led the league with nine TD runs.


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