DENVER — Robert “Red” Miller, who coached the Broncos’ famed Orange Crush teams in the late 1970s and guided the franchise to its first Super Bowl 40 years ago, died Wednesday morning from complications of a stroke, the team said.
Miller, who would have turned 90 on Oct. 31, died at Swedish Medical Center in Denver with his wife, Nan, at his side.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to Red’s entire family, especially his wife, Nan,” Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis said. “Red was a beloved member of the Broncos’ family. He left a great impact on this franchise by laying the foundation for our championship tradition and was so proud to be part of our first Super Bowl team 40 years ago.”
Miller previously had been announced as the 32nd member of the Broncos’ Ring of Fame and will be inducted on Nov. 19 when the team plays host to the Cincinnati Bengals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The ceremony is to mark the 40th anniversary of the Broncos’ 1977 team that went 12-2 and played in Super Bowl XII, the first of eight appearances in the NFL’s championship game for the organization.
Several players from the team are scheduled to attend the ceremony.
Miller replaced John Ralston before the 1977 season and reached. The Broncos won the AFC West and reached the playoffs that year for the first time in franchise history.
The Broncos made the playoffs in the first three seasons Miller was coach. After the Broncos went 8-8 in 1980 and Gerald Phipps sold the team to Edgar Kaiser Jr., Miller was replaced by Dan Reeves.
Miller’s teams featured the famed Orange Crush defense, which allowed only 15 points a game from 1977 to 1980. It included five future Broncos Ring of Famers: Defensive end Paul Smith, linebackers Randy Gradishar and Tom Jackson, cornerback Louis Wright, and safety Billy Thompson.
Miller was 40-22 overall with two AFC West titles with the Broncos. He was 2-3 in the playoffs.
Miller later coached the Denver Gold of the United States Football League, and he and his wife stayed in the Denver area to raise their children.
He was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.
Besides his wife of 27 years, Miller is survived by his son Steve, stepson Jeff and five grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his daughter Lana.
Services are pending.