Broncos Honor Hostage

Posted: December 16, 1991

For former hostage Thomas Sutherland, there was no better place to be yesterday than Denver's Mile High Stadium, to watch the Denver Broncos play Phoenix.

A professor at Colorado State University, Sutherland was freed Nov. 18 after being held in Lebanon for 6 1/2 years by terrorists.

Wearing a new orange and blue Broncos warmup jacket, he and his family were guests of the team. He spoke privately to team owner Pat Bowlen and quarterback John Elway before addressing the near-capacity crowd of 74,098 during pregame ceremonies.

Colorado "is the greatest place on Earth to live," Sutherland told the crowd.

Sutherland said he and his wife, Jean, and their three daughters are thankful to fellow Colorado residents and all Americans for the welcome he has received since returning.

While a captive, Sutherland said he used to lie on his back and think about coming home, but "never dreamed it would be this great. I thought I'd come home quietly, and maybe get a ticket to a game.

"Thursday with President Bush (at the White House) . . . Sunday with the Broncos . . . How can we keep up a high like this?"

Sutherland also predicted the Broncos would "go all the way to the Super Bowl this year and we will win it."

The family then received a standing ovation. Sutherland was presented with a plaque that read: "To Thomas Sutherland . . . Our No. 1 fan, Welcome Home."

After his release, Sutherland said one of the things he had missed during his captivity was watching the Broncos. Bowlen found out and sent him a cable inviting him to yesterday's game.

During the warmups, Sutherland also got a chance to talk with Denver coach Dan Reeves.

"We had heard on VOA (Voice of America) . . . about all these good results," Sutherland said.

"Did you follow us in the Super Bowl?" Reeves asked.

"No, we didn't hear about that," Sutherland said.

"Well, I wish I'd been with you," Reeves joked, referring to the Broncos' three lopsided losses.


Despite a 6-9 record, the Steelers can sweep their AFC Central opponents at home for the first time since 1984 by beating Cleveland Sunday at Three Rivers Stadium, where they are 27-11 in December . . . Punter Louie Aguiar, pressed into service when injuries sidelined Pat Leahy, kicked a 23-yard field goal for the Jets, his first since he was a sophomore at Utah State in 1986 . . . Minnesota's Rich Gannon, of St. Joseph's Prep and the University of Delaware, has seven interceptionless games this season, which breaks Fran Tarkenton's club record of six (in 1965, '75 and '76) . . . Houston's Drew Hill, age 35, became the first player in NFL history with four 1,000-yard receiving seasons after celebrating his 30th birthday . . . Singer-actor Wayne Newton led the pregame show at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in the final regular-season game to be played there. The Falcons will move into the new Georgia Dome next year after going 85-112-2 at home in 26 seasons outdoors . . . For the first time since 1983, a Giants-Redskins game held no playoff implications for either team . . . Miami's Pete Stoyanovich, who missed the first two games because of a contract holdout, kicked his 29th field goal, breaking Garo Yepremian's 20-year-old team record for a season. He also failed to convert an extra-point for only the second time in 103 attempts during his three-year career . . . Miami's Dan Marino, who passed Joe Montana on the NFL's all-time passing yardage list, scored the sixth rushing touchdown of his nine-year pro career and first since 1989 . . . The last time San Diego scored 28 points in a quarter was Oct. 20, 1968 . . . The Rams' Kevin Greene had one sack, his second of the season, after posting an NFL-best 46 over the past three years . . . Despite losing, the Packers outgained Detroit in total yardage, 367 to 206, and held the ball seven minutes longer . . . Seattle quarterback Kelly Stouffer made his first start since Nov. 26, 1989. But it lasted only 5 minutes and 2 seconds before he was knocked out of the game with a strained knee after being sacked in the end zone for a safety . . . Houston's Bo Orlando has intercepted a pass in four consecutive games . . . Leroy Hoard's touchdown was his 11th on the season, the most by a Cleveland player since Mike Pruitt scored 12 in 1983 . . . Pittsburgh's Tim Worley, who ended his six-game drug suspension last Monday, rushed for 33 yards on six carries in his first game since last Dec. 30. He missed the first eight weeks of the season with a knee injury.

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