One 1977 afternoon at the end of Broncos practice, the quarterbacks coach, Babe Parilli, asked me if I’d ever seen a drop-kicked field goal.

“Babe, I wasn’t born in 1937″ – the last time it happened in an NFL game.”

“I’ll bet you $25 I can drop-kick a 25-yarder in three tries,” he said.

“Nobody can drop-kick. You’re on.”

Babe called over the Broncos’ three quarterbacks and said: “I got me a sucker.” Starter Craig Morton laughed.

Then, Parilli, who was 47, held the football around the laces, dropped it at a tilted angle toward the pointed end and kicked. Straight through the uprights from about 30 yards.

A few years back at a friend’s July Fourth party, Babe called me over. He was standing on a piece of tape. “Give you a chance to get your money back. Knock me off this spot.” Babe was in his 80s but still had a Pennsylvania steel-tough body. I couldn’t move him.

“Babe, if you bet me $25 that the sun will set in the East, I wouldn’t doubt you.”

When the text came Saturday that he had died at a medical center in Parker, Colorado, it was so saddening.

Only the brightest, boldest and biggest personalities in sports earned the name “Babe” – Babe Ruth, Babe Didrikson, Babe McCarthy (the late college and pro basketball coach) and Vito “Babe” Parilli.

“I bet you I played and coached in more football leagues than anybody,” he said to me one night. I didn’t take that bet, either. Babe played quarterback in the NFL, the CFL and the AFL for five teams. He was an assistant or head football coach in the NFL, the World Football League, the USFL and the Arena League.

He played for Bear Bryant at Kentucky (a two-time All-American in 1950-51). He played for Vince Lombardi at Green Bay. (Babe was Bart Starr’s predecessor as starting quarterback.)

Babe’s story was: He played golf with the legendary Lombardi before training camp and beat the coach out of a $1 bet. “Vince threw the money at me and said that was the last dollar I’d ever get from him.” Parilli was cut before the season.

After playing twice for the Packers (he was brought back by Lombardi) and the Browns, and serving as a lieutenant in the Air Force, he went to the Ottawa Rough Riders, then joined the Raiders in the AFL’s inaugural season (1960). He was traded to the New England Patriots the following year and was the primary starter for seven seasons.

He was signed by the Jets in 1968 for the last two seasons of a 16-year pro career and was Joe Namath’s backup in the Super Bowl victory.

“I had a wild, incredible time as a player, for a poor son of a glass factory worker in the Depression.”

But his remarkable ride didn’t end. Parilli joined rookie head coach Red Miller’s staff in Denver in 1977. Under Parilli, Morton experienced his own resurgent comeback year, and the Broncos reached their first Super Bowl.

Babe also coached Terry Bradshaw in Pittsburgh.

Lamentably, Babe will miss Miller’s induction into the Broncos Ring of Fame, and the 40th Super Bowl team reunion. The Broncos had 10 coaches then (five are alive) and 25 now.

In 1978, Parilli worked with a young Broncos intern assistant – Bill Belichick.

Parilli, who was 87, spent the final 40 years in Denver.

“Once I got here I never wanted to leave,” he told me in our last conversation.

Babe was the best. He lived a life. You bet.