ENGLEWOOD | Mike Shanahan attended a Denver Broncos practice for the first time since he was fired as coach on New Year’s Eve 2008.
“I was glad he was here,” new head coach Vic Fangio said after practice Saturday. “I think it’s good he’s here. Mike’s got a big part in the rich history of this franchise and he’s welcome to come here anytime he wants.”
Fangio said he and Shanahan go back a long way “as competitors but not long as friends. We’ve just gotten to know each other the last” several years.
In addition to chatting with Fangio, Shanahan spent time talking with team president and CEO Joe Ellis and new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who worked for Shanahan’s son, Kyle, in San Francisco, as well as assistant offensive line coach Chris Kuper, a draft pick of Shanahan’s in 2006.
Rookie guard Dalton Risner, who grew up in Wiggins, Colorado, said Shanahan’s visit was a treat.
“When I grew up watching the Broncos, I watched Mike Shanahan constantly,” Risner said.
“To see him out there, I wanted to shake his hand after practice. I didn’t get a chance to and I think he’s gone already. So, big bummer, but I still saw him watching me practicing out there, which was pretty cool.”
Shanahan spent 14 seasons in charge of the Broncos, guiding them to two Super Bowl titles in the late 1990s with John Elway at quarterback. His 146 wins, including the playoffs, are the most in club history.
Elway, now the Broncos general manager, toyed with the idea of bringing Shanahan back as head coach last year but stuck with Vance Joseph, whom he fired after a 6-10 season. Fangio replaced Joseph on Jan. 10.
Shanahan attended the dedication of the Pat Bowlen Field House adjacent to the team’s practice fields a couple of years ago and was on hand when the Broncos honored their first Super Bowl-winning team during a game against Green Bay in 2015. But this marked his first visit to the main football facilities and practice in 11 years.
After leaving the Broncos, Shanahan coached the Washington Redskins from 2010-13.
Also on hand for Saturday’s practice was Lloyd Pierce, coach of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.
“He’s a friend of mine and him and his staff happened to be in Colorado on a two-day junket and he called and wanted to come down and watch us practice and he’s going to sit and visit with us a little bit,” Fangio said.
Notes: TE Troy Fumagalli sat out the Broncos’ first full pads practice with a sore hip and is day-to-day and WR River Cracraft will miss at least a week with an unspecified muscle strain.