On March 6, 1995, The Fan was born. In the 25 years since, a lot has transpired on the fields, courts and ice in Colorado, giving the hosts and listeners who’ve been part of the station during that time plenty to talk about and debate.
During the course of the next few weeks, we’ll take a look back at that history, remembering the good times and the bad, the winners and the losers, the successes and the failures. It’s a series we’re calling “Timeline 25” and it continues today with a look at a historic moment for the Broncos – the first touchdown scored at Invesco Field at Mile High.
Before it was Empower Field at Mile High. Prior to the name changing to Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos stadium was originally known as Invesco Field at Mile High.
The building opened its doors in the summer of 2001, hosting a concert by The Eagles on August 11. That was followed by a pair of preseason games, as the Broncos hosted the Saints on August 25 and the 49ers on August 31.
The first official NFL game, however, one that actually counted in the standings, came on September 10, when the Broncos played the Giants on “Monday Night Football.” That game will forever be remembered for two things. One, Ed McCaffrey suffered a season-ending broken leg. Two, it was the final sporting event of the pre-9/11 era; after that night, the country would never be the same.
The opening of Invesco Field was a big deal in Denver. It was the culmination of years of hard work by Pat Bowlen and the Broncos organization, as they looked to replace an aging Mile High Stadium with a facility that could keep them competitive in the ever-changing NFL. It also marked the end of an era, as a lot of long-time Broncos fans loved the nooks and crannies of old Mile High.
That said, the night was a festive occasion, as everyone was on hand for the stadium’s debut. Local dignitaries, league officials, former players and other big names were in the building for Denver’s 31-20 win over New York.
They were all on hand to see history, which included an interesting footnote. There were wagers being made in the stands on who would score the first touchdown ever at Invesco Field.
The Broncos offense was loaded with talent, so there were plenty of options. Terrell Davis carried the ball 21 times for 101 yards. McCaffrey caught a 16-yard score before getting hurt. And fellow wideout Rod Smith hauled one in from 25 yards out.
But the first of three touchdown passes from Brian Griese that night was completed to an unlikely receiver. With 1:09 to play in the first quarter, the quarterback connected with a little used tight end / fullback for a one-yard score.
The first-ever touchdown at Invesco Field went to Patrick Hape. He was a longshot, to put it mildly.
The 2001 season was Hape’s first in Denver, following four in Tampa Bay. That year, he would go on to catch 15 passes for 96 yards, both career highs, and three touchdowns. He would go on to spend four seasons in a Broncos uniform, scoring 11 touchdowns during his career in orange and blue.
It was his first time crossing the goal line in Denver that will forever be etched in the history books. Today, Hape lives in Alabama with his wife and two children, where he works as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch. His claim to fame, however, remains his milestone touchdown on September 10, 2001.
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