Starting with the ‘what’, it should come as no surprise that Bucky the Bronco is the mascot of the Denver Broncos American football franchise, which competes in the Western Division of the American Football Conference (AFL) in the National Football League (NFL). ‘Bucky’ is embodied by a 27′, 1,600lb statue of a lustrous white stallion – akin to that depicted on the Broncos’ logo – which, under normal circumstances, stands above the scoreboard at the South Stands end of Empower Field at Mile High, which has been the home of the one-time ‘Orange Crush’ since 2001. However, in January, 2023, the statue was lifted by crane and removed, temporarily, for the duration of renovations to the scoreboard.
Nevertheless, Bucky the Bronco is a precious relic of the adjacent, but now demolished, Mile High Stadium, where he had occupied a similar position since first erected in 1975. The statue is a replica of that of ‘Trigger’, a movie horse owned by ‘King of the Cowboys’ Roy Rogers, which Rogers commissioned as a landmark for the the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, California. Following an approach by Broncos’ owners, Alan and Gerald Phipps, Rogers gave permission for a second statue to be cast from the same mould, after which the mould was destroyed. So, while Bucky the Bronco is not quite one-of-a-kind, he’s the next best thing.
Aficionados of gridiron football may recall that Denver Broncos once had a punter called Douglas ‘Bucky’ Gilts, who played for two seasons, in 1977 and 1978, including in the 27-10 defeat by Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XII. However, the named of the statue is derived from the phrase ‘bucking bronco’, insofar as it symbolises the concept of a wild, untamed horse, albeit rearing rather than bucking.