Heimerdinger was part of key era in Denver

It’s a rough start to the NFL weekend.

The league is mourning the death of Mike Heimerdinger after a fight with cancer that lasted nearly a year. He was 58.

Heimerdinger had key assistant-coaching roles with the Broncos, Jets and Titans. He had a long career in Denver and was on the team’s staff as the receivers coach when it won back-to-back Super Bowls in the 1997 and ’98 seasons. He was the assistant head coach in Denver in 2006 and 2007. He and former Denver coach Mike Shanahan were roommates at Eastern Illinois, and they were best friends as adults.

He was the Titans’ offensive coordinator last year and he coached battling the disease.

Known simply as “Dinger” to nearly everyone, Heimerdinger was intelligent, hard-working and caring.

Former Denver receiving great Rod Smith routinely credits Heimerdinger for his development. They remained close.

I always enjoyed my time spent with Heimerdinger. He was always cordial and generous with his time.

Rest in peace, Dinger. My condolences go out to his family and friends.

Here's a statement the Broncos released Saturday:

The Denver Broncos are heartbroken to learn of Mike Heimerdinger’s passing on Friday night following his courageous battle with cancer.

Mike coached for the Broncos during the most successful period in team history, highlighted by the club’s back-to-back World Championship seasons of 1997-98. Known affectionately as Dinger, Mike earned respect and admiration from this franchise and around the NFL for his grit, passion and “never-give-up” attitude.

He remained close with several members of the organization following his final year with the Broncos in 2007, including some who visited him last week before the team’s game in Tennessee.

The Broncos extend their deepest sympathies and prayers to Mike’s wife, Kathie, and the rest of his family and friends during this most difficult time.