A big piece of Denver Broncos history has died.

Former Denver Broncos Head Coach John Ralston has died at the age of 92. He didn't take the Broncos to the Super Bowl, but he sure helped get them there for the first time.

Ralston was the Broncos head coach from 1972-1976 and in his second season led them to their first winning season since the franchise was born in 1960.

"Go To and Win the Super Bowl" was Ralston's mantra. He had it on the visor in his car and on the mirror at home so he could see it every morning. The goal was always in sight and always on his mind. Unfortunately, it never happened, though the Broncos were headed in the right direction.

In three of Ralston's five years as head coach, the Broncos managed a winning record. However, in 1976 after going 9-5 and failing once again to make the playoffs, some players went to management asking that a coaching change be made. It was.

Red Miller was hired to replace Ralston, and in his first season led the broncos to a 12-2 regular-season record and an appearance in the Super Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys. Though the season ended in a disappointing loss in the Super Bowl, at that point, Broncos fans were elated just to be there.

Though John Ralson did not get the Broncos to the big game during his tenure, he was surely instrumental in making it happen drafting players like Otis Armstrong, Rick Upchurch, Riley Odoms, Barney Chavous, Randy Gradishar, and Tom Jackson.

Ralson was ever the optimist and made his players and Denver fans believe that a Super Bowl ring was possible. As it turned out, he was right. It just didn't happen until 20 years later. The Broncos would lose three more Super Bowls before breaking through and winning it all for the first time in 1997.

I think those of us who are old enough to remember the John Ralson years have a greater appreciation for the success the Broncos have had since then and their eight Super Bowl appearances. We will never take success for granted.

John Ralston will never be remembered as a Super Bowl-winning coach and who knows what would have happened had the Broncos given him one more year. Hall of Famer Tom Jackson said, " I believe that we made a mistake.(firing Ralston)We went to the Super Bowl, but we went with John Ralston's football team. I think maybe we would have gone anyway."

[PRO FOOTBALL REFERENCE]