As I was writing the MHR History post about the Ring of Fame, several questions popped into my head. Since those questions were not pertinent to the discussion about the history and legacy of the Ring of Fame, I decided I needed to write a quick Fan Post about it.
The first question was simply, "What makes a player worthy of this honor?" The answers were not quite as simple. A nominee had to have one or more of the following: tenure, popularity, records, impact on the team, or pure Bronconess(a vague term, but I think most of you will understand what I mean by it). Winning also had something to do with it, but mostly when selecting nominees in recent years.
That question caused me to ask, "Are there any former Broncos who are worthy enough to be included into the Ring of Fame?" Now that is a question worth examining. Right off the bat I thought of two guys who will most certainly be inducted in the first year or so of eligibility. Those two guys are Rod Smith and Shannon Sharpe. While I was examining past Broncos a name popped out in my head and no matter how hard I tried to move on it kept leaping out at me. That name is Dan Reeves.
Out of all of our former coaches, Dan Reeves did the most to set the standard for this organization. Sure we all like to gripe about how he held Elway back, but look back and compare to other teams how many games were won. You'll find the Denver Broncos in the top 5 for sure. He averaged over ten wins a season(not including the 1982 strike shortened catastrophe). Think about that for a minute. Prior to Dan Reeves, the Broncos had just three or four winning seasons in twenty or so seasons of play. Since Dan Reeves, this organization has only suffered three or four losing seasons in twenty-five years!
Now I know that Dan Reeves left the Broncos in less than amicable circumstances, but I don't believe it should take away from the long term impact he had on this organization. Nor do I believe we as fans should talk about him with any sort of disdain. The guy took our team to three Super Bowls. His style of play calling and coaching helped propel a group of rag tag nobody's to the biggest game of the year, three times! John Elway was really the only perennial Pro Bowler on those teams, and I am hard pressed to believe he alone is responsible for us making it to those Super Bowls.
These thoughts brought me to my final question, "Has Dan Reeves earned a spot in our Ring of Fame?" My answer is most definitely YES. Besides Mike Shanahan, Reeves was the most influential coach in Denver Bronco history and he deserves to be the first coach honored in the Ring of Fame.