This lively account of how the 1977 Denver Broncos football team--nicknamed the Orange Crush for their flame-colored jerseys and winning ways--made it to Super Bowl XII, where (as the head for the second-to-last chapter notes) they lost XXVII to X, offers some diverting insights into the ways a successful professional sports franchise can affect the collective psyche of a city that already is a mile high. The author, who covers the Broncos for the Rocky Mountain News, briefly recounts the club's I8-year history as a loser. But the bulk of the text is a long, loving look at the championship season engineered by a rookie coach (Red Miller), a re-tread quarterback (Craig Morton) with IRS woes, and a rowdy bunch of young, black-and-white spear carriers (Haven Moses, Randy Gradishar, Lyle Alzado, et al.). By the numbers, a twelve and two won/lost record gave the team its First division title and a trip to the playoffs. But by the time the despised Oakland Raiders had been defeated in the fifth game of the season, Denver fans already were painting the town orange. On Sunday afternoons with 85 percent of the state's TV sets tuned to the games, crime was negligible. T-shirt and button vendors apart, the principal beneficiary seems to have been Joe Iacino, local bottler of the soft drink called Orange Crush. On the field, in the meantime, the players won a ticket to the New Orleans Superdome and a date with the Dallas Cowboys. Paige offers the best report this side of Semi-Tough of not only the lunacy but also the ennui that characterizes the countdown to a super-bowl contest.