Vito “Babe” Parilli: 1930-2017 – Denver Broncos News

Vito “Babe” Parilli: 1930-2017 – Denver Broncos News

The life of Vito “Babe” Parilli in football was unlike any other.

Parilli, who died Saturday at the age of 87, was the quarterbacks coach for the Broncos from 1977-79, working on the staff of one Ring of Famer (head coach Red Miller) while guiding another Ring of Famer (Craig Morton) to some of the best seasons of his career.

Those three years forever connected Parilli to the Broncos and to Denver. But they tell just a small fraction of his story, a journey of nearly 50 years in the sport that saw him cross paths with one legend after another.

After growing up in Rochester, Pennsylvania, Parilli played at Kentucky under perhaps the greatest coach in college football history, Paul “Bear” Bryant. He guided UK to its greatest football success, leading them to wins in the Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl in consecutive seasons. That earned the notice of the NFL and the Green Bay Packers, who drafted Parilli with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1952 NFL Draft.

A whistle-stop, 18-season playing career followed, beginning with two years in Green Bay. It included two separate stints with the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders, and a year with the Cleveland Browns under Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown, when he was a first-hand witness to Brown’s early attempts to use a radio receiver in a quarterback’s helmet. Parilli returned to Green Bay in 1957, playing two more seasons as a backup behind Bart Starr before he was cut in 1959 by a head coach just getting his feet wet — Vince Lombardi.

As Parilli told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in 2003, he got the better of Lombardi on the golf course — but that might have been a mistake.

“We were only…

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