Ralston coached the Broncos first winning season in 1973.
The Broncos owe a lot to former head coach, John Ralston. His tenure marks the turning point in the team's record, setting it on the path to several Super Bowl championships down the road.
"Ralston’s tenure, which began with the 1972 season, signaled a shift in the Broncos’ fortune. Prior to his arrival, the team had a .304 win percentage and a reputation as a cellar-dweller in the fledgling American Football League and, after the AFL-NFL merger, in the NFL, too. But over the course of the next five years, Ralston led them to win 50.7 percent of their games," says a release by the Denver Broncos.
Ralston, just the seventh coach in Broncos history, led the 1973 team to its first winning season and was recognized as the AFC Coach of the Year by AP, UPI, and PFWA that year, as well. Ralston also took the Broncos to a then-record-breaking 9 wins in the 1976 season.
Ralston came from college ball, coaching at both Stanford and Utah State, prior to joining the Broncos. His teams earned a host of championships, as well as two Rose Bowls (Stanford). His heart was in the college game, and after he left the NFL ranks, he returned to head up San Jose State's team. He was also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
His legacy has had a lasting effect on the Broncos franchise that has echoed for decades.
"More than that, Ralston helped build the Broncos as its general manager, adding a remarkable amount of talent that would eventually lead the team to its Super Bowl XII berth. Of the 22 offensive and defensive starters for that team, 16 Broncos had been drafted or signed by Ralston. Six of his draftees or free-agent signees would eventually become Ring of Famers," the Broncos relate.
Ralston passed away on September 14 at the age of 92.