Steve Tensi, former Broncos and Chargers quarterback, dead at 81

Steve Tensi, a former NFL quarterback who played for the Denver Broncos for most of his career, has died, the team announced on Monday. He was 81.

Tensi spent four of his six-year career with the Broncos. He played in 41 games, recording 5,153 passing yards and 38 touchdown passes. He also played two seasons with the San Diego Chargers.


Denver Broncos quarterback Steve Tensi, #13, warms up prior to the game against the San Diego Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium. (Darryl Norenberg-USA TODAY Sports)

The team said his family will hold a celebration of life on March 23 in Boone, North Carolina. The family requested donations to be made to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in lieu of flowers.

“I’m really sorry to hear that,” Tensi’s former teammate defensive back Billy Thompson, told the Denver Gazette. “He was a good teammate. We had a lot of fun together. He was one of the guys, always joking around. He always had something good to say.”

The former Florida State standout was drafted to both the NFL and the AFL in 1965. The Baltimore Colts chose him in the 16th round of the NFL Draft and the San Diego Chargers took him in the fourth round of the 1965 AFL Draft.

Broncos quarterback Steve Tensi was frustrated. (John G. White/The Denver Post via Getty Images)


He chose to play for the Chargers and did not appear in games regularly until the 1966 season. San Diego ended up trading Tensi to the Broncos for the Nos. 4 and 9 overall picks in 1967.

Tensi would end up starting 32 of the 41 games he appeared in for the Broncos.

When the AFL merged with the NFL, Tensi threw the team’s first NFL touchdown pass on the road against the Buffalo Bills. Denver won the game 25-10. He retired after that season due to injuries.

Tensi was a coach at Wichita State and later the World Football League’s Chicago Fire before he started a construction career.

Denver Broncos quarterback Steve Tensi was under pressure from San Diego’s Russ Washington. (Steve Larson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

He finished his playing career with 5,558 passing yards and 43 touchdown passes.

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Ryan Gaydos is a senior editor for Fox News Digital.

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