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Here comes Vic Fangio's moment -- 40 years in the making

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Hello, football America: Here comes Vic Fangio.

The first-year Denver Broncos coach has more than three decades of NFL experience on his résumé, but Monday night's game against the Oakland Raiders marks his first as the head man.

And underneath that trademark sweatshirt, he is a fast-walking, straight-talking, I-don't-like-neckties paradox. He's 61 years old, meaning all of his current players weren't even born when he first walked the sideline. He has made 13 coaching stops -- from Dunmore (Pennsylvania) High School in 1979 to Denver today -- and earned each and every worry line around his eyes. But there's more to the Broncos' coach than just experience.

"So, people might look at [Fangio] like he's just this old-school guy," said linebacker Von Miller in training camp. "But I think he is and he isn't. He's old school and new school, he knows a lot of things, a lot of people and knows how to coach now. He goes to both schools -- that's what I think, both schools."

"I so think he is sometimes just an old-school guy," said defensive end Derek Wolfe. "I've said that I don't think I've heard him tell a story about an old player post-1990 (laughs). Everything is from like the '80s. ... But he's new, too. He relates to guys. There's an honesty there that is always good no matter what year it is."

So who is this frank-speaking coach? "I don't know. Not sure it matters -- I just coach," Fangio said.

Perhaps taking a listen will help us find out.

Talking old school

On what he wanted to wear to his introductory news conference with the Broncos (he wore a gifted tie and borrowed slacks with the hems safety-pinned): "I talked to [Bears chairman] George [McCaskey] ... and I said to him, 'George, can I do the press conference ... in my gray sweats?' He calls them my gray business suit. He said, 'No, you can't do that.' So, he gave me this tie to wear. This tie is compliments of George McCaskey and the Chicago Bears."

On waiting 32 years as an NFL assistant to be hired after just his second-ever interview to be a head coach: "I've never fit the match of the profile of what certain teams were looking for. Or, I was with teams that weren't succeeding at that time. Fortunately, I matched the profile of what John [Elway] was looking for and we formed a good marriage."

On running back Phillip Lindsay being held out of a scrimmage after a visit to a chiropractor: "To hell with chiropractors. Let's play football."

On coaching in the preseason opener only hours after a hospital visit for a kidney stone: "[The pain] wasn't too bad. By the time I left the hospital things were under control. I don't believe I've passed it yet, but it had done most of it's traveling by the time I left there -- if you know anything about a kidney stone."

On fundamentals: "I'm a fundamentals coach. I think the game of the NFL, everybody thinks has changed and it's a high-scoring league, etc., but fundamentals is still what wins in this league. I'm going to stress those. We're not going to cut any corners -- there will be no death by inches. We're going to stress fundamentals."

On always wearing those sweats: "I like them ... I don't have to think too much about what I'm going to wear or if it matches."

On the first win of the preseason: "Nobody's in there doing cheetah flips and cartwheels like they would in a regular-season game, but winning's cured more ills than penicillin."

On music during practice: "Anybody's who's been a position coach or an assistant coach, they don't like the music because it makes it hard to talk to your guys, so I don't see the benefit of having music out there. ... There's no music in games, and when it goes to the point where we need to simulate crowd noise in practice, which we will do, it will be noise. It won't be music. It will be noise. That's what it is in the game. Noise by definition sounds annoying. Music sounds nice, so if we have to deal with noise, let's deal with noise. I don't like to have to yell to communicate to a player that's standing as close as me and you are. That makes no sense."

On his own taste in music: "Earth, Wind & Fire. Michael Jackson."

On rookie quarterback Drew Lock's development during camp (before Lock went to injured reserve due to his right thumb): "He's not a quarterback yet. He's a hard-throwing pitcher that doesn't know how to pitch yet, so the faster he gets that, the better off he'll be and we'll be."

Talking new school

On the preseason: "I've never game planned for any preseason game in my life. We just go out and play kind of basic football so we can evaluate the guys."

On using the Broncos' extra week in preseason to give the players two days off: "We gave the players two days off, where I think most teams give them one day off, so we kind of got those days there that some of the other teams don't get. We took advantage of it in multiple ways."

On ending the tradition of rookie haircuts: "I just don't think it's right. I just don't believe in hazing. There are traditions that stay put. Guys are getting up in front of the team and doing a little skit every night. Maybe a rookie's carrying somebody's pads off the field and so on or bringing in the donuts or the breakfast, but nothing physical."

On not keeping with a long-held tradition of naming team captains for the season: "I think everybody has got a license to become a leader on the team -- you don't need to be appointed. I think leadership is something somebody takes. It's not granted to you, whether it be by a coaching staff or a vote. You take it -- you don't get proclaimed that."

On the fans at open training camp practices: "I think it's good to have the fans out here. ... I think one of the small things that have driven the NFL to being the most popular sport in the country is that you let people come and watch practice. People that maybe can't afford to go to the game. Maybe get an autograph from a player. Maybe a player shakes their hand or throws them a sweatband or a glove. You do that with a young person, you've got a fan for life and football has a fan for life. There is more to be gained out of that than any advertising slogan or any commercial that you put on TV. I think it is a good thing, and I think I'll embrace it and the players will embrace it. I wish there could be more of them here, but I think about half or less of the NFL now doesn't go to college campuses and doesn't ... have people at their facility to watch practice. I think it's a little bit of a negative."

There it is. As cornerback Bryce Callahan, who also played for Fangio with the Bears, said: "I've said Vic is going to be Vic. I think that is just his swag. Whatever is working for him, just keep doing it."

Whether anyone thinks there is enough swag there is not really Fangio's concern.

"I'm more about how we play and if we win," Fangio said.

His first chance to do that as a head coach comes Monday -- 40 years after he first pulled his trademark whistle over his head. Asked if the day would hold any special meaning, Fangio thought for an eye-blink moment and simply said, with a slight smile, "I'm not real good at enjoying the moment -- it's a fault of mine. I don't know ... I'll enjoy it if we win."