When Denverites hear the name of Sammy Winder, a former star
running back for the Broncos, they show all the excitement of a
fern. Some even ask, "Sammy who?"
This is what happens when a Terrell Davis comes to town. In with
the new, John Doe to the old. "I would never, ever say I was as
good a runner as Terrell Davis is," says Winder, 39. "I
mean--look at him! But I was a tough, hard-nosed player who gave
his all on every play. I think I helped my team succeed."
In his nine-year career with Denver, Winder ran for 5,427 yards
and 39 touchdowns. His 296 rushing attempts in 1984, when he
pushed and pounded his way to 1,153 yards, earning himself a
trip to the Pro Bowl, was the Broncos' single-season record
until Terrell Davis had 345 in '96. Winder made the trip to
Hawaii again in '86. "But '84--that was the outstanding year for
me," he says. "Other years were a little more frustrating."
He's referring to the three that ended with Super Bowl losses
for Denver. Winder and the Broncos fell to the New York Giants
in 1987, the Washington Redskins in '88 and the San Francisco
49ers in '90. He admits, somewhat grudgingly, that Denver may
have been in over its head against New York and San Francisco,
but the 42-10 loss to Washington still gnaws at him. "We matched
up very well," he says. "We had a great start, scored
first...and never got the ball back again. They just poured it
on. We were shocked."
February 1, 1999
In 1989 Denver drafted Bobby Humphrey out of Alabama and gave
him Winder's starting job. Although he says he was never bitter,
Winder considers that the end of his career. "Before Humphrey, I
never thought about getting hurt," he says, "but watching from
the sidelines, I'd see Bobby get hit, and I started wondering if
I'd be able to get up the next time that happened to me. I was
31, and maybe I had lost a step. I knew it was time."
Winder retired after the 1990 season and moved back home to
Ridgeland, Miss., where he lives with his wife, Filista, and
their nine-month-old daughter, Elizabeth. Together with his
older brother, Warren, Sammy owns and operates Winder
Construction, a business he finds as satisfying as a two-yard
plunge into the end zone. "I really don't miss football very
much," he says. "I've always been fascinated by power. One of
the things I really enjoy is a 200-horsepower bulldozer and the
energy it exerts. I just love that feel."
Winder's 296 carries in 1984 was the Broncos' single-season
record until Davis broke it.