When Frank Tripucka first arrived in Denver in 1960 to work for the newly-formed Broncos of the newly-formed American Football League he was only supposed to help assist head coach Frank Filchock in a coaching capacity. Funny thing about that. Tripucka was apparently the best option the team had at quarterback. Thus though he hadn't played in the NFL since 1952 he took over the starting spot and proceeded to throw for a career- and league-high 3038 yards that season. Tripucka -- who died Thursday morning at the age of 85 -- started for two more seasons (and led the league in passing yards again in 1962). Here's how Tripucka looked at the time. He was such an important part of franchise history the team retired his No. 18 jersey. Which he then graciously allowed Peyton Manning to wear. “I have admired Peyton for a long time" Tripucka said at the time via the team website. "He is one of the all-time greats and having him wear the same jersey that I did brings me a lot of joy." Said Manning during his introductory news conference in Denver: “It really goes against everything I believe in being a guy who appreciates the history of football and I believe when a number is retired it should stay retired; but in talking to Frank Tripucka I feel he really wants me to wear his number. It was a very humbling conversation and I am honored to wear his number being another quarterback for the Denver Broncos as Mr. Tripucka was back years ago as the first quarterback to play here. It truly is an honor for me and I'm really following his wishes to wear it because that's what he wants me to do and I'm honored to do that."
Frank Tripucka, first Denver Broncos QB, dies at 85 years old
CBS Sports | Sep 12