Like most of you I immediately went to cast my wants for who should be on my team. Some of the choices were obvious, but I'll tell you, I had some real problems looking at (and re-living through their Bios) players I love and basically telling them, "I don't want you on my team." Did anyone else have a problem with this? Did any of you have a hard time telling a player you love you don't like them anymore or am I the only emotional mush stuck in La La Land where everything is supposed to be easy.?
Man! This would have been much easier if the Broncos, after locking in your first team vote, had then asked you for your second team vote. I would probably still have some problems--but it would have been easier.
Anyway, here I go, probably not the best team (there are far greater football statitions at this site than myself) but it is my team....and I love them.
I start here because because there is only one tough choice and that is Punter.
My Punter is Mike Horan.
I had a real problem with this because of Tom Rouen. Not only was Tom very good, not only did he help us during our SB run, he was a great Bronco that loved kicking in the 'Mile High' air...for us 'Mile High' fans.
Neither had the strongest leg in the league, yet, but both could punt it out of the park on occasion. Mike wins because nobody (and Rouen was close) nobody could could drop a punt inside the ten like Horan. I'm doing this from memory so some of you stat experts may want correct me on this.....but my Punter remains Horan.
My Kicker is Jason Elam. I hope you understand this...there is no contest.
I gave a somewhat thought for Rich Karlis. Its funny, from the cameras angle, that barefooted kick that complimented 'THE DRIVE'and sent us (with Elway) to our second Super Bowl, looked like it missed by ten feet. Did anyone else think that? I was shocked when the Ref raised his hands. I thought the kick was left...funny me.
My Return Specialist is Rck Upchurch.
No contest here. For you younger MHR members, I feel sorry for you... Rick Upchurchcould watch a punt, with great hang time (google Ray Guy), come towards him at a slower speed than 'The Bad Guys' and suddenly be on the 'Good Side' of those 'Bad Guys' and on his way to a touchdown. Billy 'Whiteshoes' Johnson was good ........ Upchurch was better. Hester scored two TD's against us when we where bad. Upchurch took down The Steelersone game (during the Steelers' Glory Years) with three returns for TDs.
Here is where I'm sure many of us will seperate. I hope we remain friends, and I will not (most of the time) go into as much detail, but we should remain friends. This kinda scares me as I am an 'emotional fan'that understands facts and stats, but never lets reality get in the way of my love for this team. That being said I start (this time) with the easiest picks......... Corners.
My Corners are Louis Wright and Champ Bailey.
All of us know Champ, yet, from what I remember, few players could cover an entire, 'What Was Happening" as well as Louis. It was a different time back then. Zone coverage was becoming popular. Defensiveswere morphing. Offensives were flirting with 'Ideas'.....things were changing. Louis (I suppose) didn't have the soft hands that GOD blessed Champ with--but he did what was needed--and he did it always.
I'll tell you...this is really scary...before I leave defense (after touching on Safety) I have to tackle, DE (defensive end) Tackle and Line Backer. Where do I go with this? I come from so way before the 'Orange Crush Era' that I don't know what to do. It will be so much eaisier after I get to offense...or so it seems. I hope some of you 'Old Timers' feel my pain that I've had to tell players I love that, "I don't want you on my team" ........this is really tough.
My Defensive Ends are Simon Fletcher and Rich 'Tombstone' Jackson.
Simon Fletcher was my easy choice. I personally think he was the best DE Denver's had (he was the 'Sack-Master' afterall), in fact I'm a little suprised he is not in the Ring of Fame.
Rich Jackson was almost as easy but I did wrestle with Alzado (serious punn here) but said, "Nope! No Way!" Having been born in Utah, Rulon also got some serious concideration, but he was just too weak against the run. Barney Chavous was much more difficult to pass. He is really an 'Ouch of Emotion' as I tell him 'I don't want you on my team', forgive me Barney...you are first pick second team. Rich 'Tombstone' Jackson just has to be on the 'Fifty Year Team'. He was not near as good at sacks as Fletcher--maybe not as good (in sacks) as Chavous--but he was difinitely a "Tombstone.' It didn't take long for other teams to realize that you could not run against this man--neither sweeps, or inside. Once Rich realized it was a run--you could not block him--period--he by golly was going to take that runner down. I personally feel it was 'Tombstone' that made the Denver organization realize that a dominant defensive line might be the way to build a winning team. Rich Jackson was not part of 'Orange Crush' but he was a proto-type of a half-dozen years down the road.
My Defensive Tackles are Trevor Pryce...Rubin Carter....and (sorry but I need to bend the rules) Greg Kragen.
I had to break the rules here because there was a transition here from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. The picks I submited were Trevor and Rubin. Trevor was by far the best 'pure'Tackle to play on our team--skilled in both stopping the run and getting to the QB from the inside. Rubin was such a staple at Nose Tackle during our 'Orange Crush' glory years that I had to make him my second pick... I just couldn't couldn't look undersized, over-achieving, Greg Kragen in the face and say, "I don't want you on my team," so at least (for this post) I won't.
My Line-Backers are Randy Gradishar (should be in the Hall), Tom Jackson(watch Wesley Woodyard the next few years) and Karl Mecklenburg (STUD.......period).
Gradishar (should be in the Hall) may have been the best Inside Linebacker to ever play the game. Definitely the best to play in a 3-4 scheme. Totally dominant! ...It was probably a good long-term decision to leave, after just 9 or 10 years, thus no injuries or long-term problems, but it may keep him out of the Hall. A shame...Randy is a HOL must...yet may never get there. Tom is one of my favorite Broncos ever. He was the over-achieving, undersized, shouldn't be able to do this, perfect example of what us 'underachievers' wish we had tried. He was everywhere, vocal, and everywhere...on every play...I love Tom. For you younger MHR members, you would have to have experienced 'The Albino Rhino" to really appreciate how special this man is..........to us old-timers anyway. There was never a more confusing defensive, 'Whatdo we do with HIM?' than Karl Mecklenburg. He was officially a Linebacker (and a very good one) but he was DE (and very good at that) and a DT(and pretty good with that). He was (using Chess as an example) a very large pawn, that you just can't get to, before it moves that one space forward, and re-instates the Queen.
I do need (because we've had so many great linebackers) give special mention to: Al Wilson (the neck injury is trajic), John Mobley (knocked down Favre's pass that led to our first SB), Bob Swenson (an undrafted 'overachiever' that was very steady), and Jim Ryan (a staple for many years).
My Safeties are Steve Atwater and Austin 'Goose' Gonsoulin .
As I near the end of 'Defense' (thinking offense will be easier) I'm already feeling some hard picks for offense. It is already the 12th of June, 2009 and I should have finished this a week ago. Anyway....I push forward...
Steve Atwater (should be in the Hall) is a no-brainer. He was every bit the hitter of Dennis Smith or Ronnie Lott, great in coverage, great against the run, and maybe the best 'Short-Yardage' stopper to ever play the game. My other pick, 'Goose,' is going to require some history...without a history lesson...let's see how I do.
Back in the early 60's there were two 'Pro-Football' leagues: AFL and NFL. Most of you know that, but do you know...
The two leagues were quite different, they even used different balls. The NFL used the same ball they had used for years, the AFL introduced a ball that was a bit thinner in the 'belly' and a little friendlier in air travel. In the early years the NFL remained mostly 'smash-mouth' while the AFL began nicknaming players 'Bambi.'
The NFL was like early UPS (mostly ground with some air) and the AFLwas like early FedX (mostly air with some ground). As the leagues competed (without competing against each other) UPS began to understand the 'Air" game ( Tom Landry was the first NFL coach to see the future of the 'air-game')....and FedX reluctantley began to understand the importance of 'Ground Deliveries'.
With that said, let'sget back to Goose (SHOULD BE IN THE HALL) and what he did. I was too young to remember if Goose was a strong or free safety...to tell you the truth...I don't think 'strong' or 'free' concerning 'Safety' had been invented yet. If 'strong' or 'free' had been invented...us fans had no idea what they were. Then comes Goose. I guess I would call him the 'Ultimate' ...and I'm going to say 'Free Safety' ..........that was Goose. In a new league trying to find its purpose, here was this guy catching as many passes, from the 'Bad Guys' QB than many of the receivers on the 'Bad Guys' team. That is what I remember as a child. As far as I'm concerned Goose Gonsolin invented and perfected what we now call the 'Free Safety' position. If you guys knew how many times I heard, "And the player that made the first INT in the AFL keeps piling them on" you would know why Goose should be in the Hall....He invented (just because of the way he was) a current NFL position. Not only that he was my hero as a kid...if any of you haven't voted--show Goose some love when you do.
We've really had some great Safeties on this team, (makes what we had last year kinda peeuuke). Special mention needs to go to Billy Thompson--next on my list, Steve Foley not far behind, and Dennis Smith..................................bambam.
WOW!!! I made it through Defense!! Offense should be easier...I hope.
My QB is #7, it belongs to Elway, and is retired.
Special mentions go to Craig Morton who brought stability to an offense that was complimented by an 'Orange Crush' defense. Thanks Craig for our first Super Bowl. I also want to thank Frank Tripucka for getting things started, and Marlin Briscoe for giving us one exciting year and a lot of media attention.
My running backs are Floyd Little (should be in the Hall) and Terrell Davis (should be in the Hall).
Everyone remembers Terrell and his exploits...so let me talk about Floyd. Man! ... I kid you not...I am getting choked-remembering just how much Floyd Little meant to this franchise at a time when this Franchise could've failed. At a time when we were near or at the annual 'doormat'in the AFC West, while KC and the faiders were knocking down doors for respect, Floyd Little stood out as one of the best all-a-round offensive players to ever play the game. You 'youngsters' have no idea how elusive and special, on some very bad teams, Floyd really was. In total offense he led--or was near the lead--every year he played.
I need to give special mention to Sammy Winder. Sammy--you may not make this team--but I want you're on my team--and I love ya man! Also need to mention Otis Armstrong, if not for the 'spine problem' may have been the best back we ever had.
I was going to do Receivers next, both tight end and wide--but they are too easy. It is now the 13th of June and I started this thing the day after the voting started--distractions, family visits, and (can we say) procrastination have really hindered my progress. Not to mention the fact that there are some really tough choices here. I need to attack the offensive Line. This is very difficult. Few people watch (and I gues I'm one) the Offensive Line during a play. To make matters worse, I don't care if you've loved the Broncos for ten months or 48 years like me. You've heard as much 'Speak...so to say' from the offensive line as I have. I'm not a stat guy--I rely on this site for that kinda nonsense--so forgive me if I make choices based on emotion.
My Offensive Tackles are Gary Zimmerman (In the Hall as a Bronco) and Ken Lanier.
What can I say. Gary guarded #7's (retired and belongs to Elway) blindside and helped us lead us to the.........release of frustrations from so many failed attempts. I was torn between Ken and (believe it or not) Matt Lepsis. Lepsis almost got my vote...too small...too something underachiever. I've always been a sucker for that. Had to go with Lanier however because he may have been evry bit as good as Zimm without the fire-power behind him. Just don't know. Its kinda fun to have a 'Silent Giant' like Clady...that because of new rules...may have to speak.
My Offensive Guards are Mark Schelereth and Ben Hamilton.
I have no reason for this. Ben proved he was a part of a special line last year and I wanted Keith Bishop as my second guard. Can anyone explain what I have just done?
WOW!! .. It is still the 13th and I have made it through this post. I know I still have three positions left--but they are no-brainers. I may not finish it today.....but once again....I trod forward.
My Center is Tom Nalen.
For you younger fans your center should be Tom Nalen. For you older fans your center should be Tom Nalen. What a staple for our line for so many years. In a few years I will add Tom to the, 'Should be in the Hall list' in my signature. No other choice--Nalen should make the Hall.
My wide receivers are Lionel Taylor and Rod Smith.
Rod Smith is a recent memory and the essence of what a football player (you really want to love) to be. Rod Smith is the example of hard work and humility that you hope your children will become. Rod Smith should be in the Hall (when the time comes) and I just pray that he gets there. No other could be the example he's been these last troubling years. Showing first, how to try to come back, and then showing us how to retire with grace....and a few tears. I will forever love Shanny forever for giving him an unlimited shot.
Lionel Taylor was the 'Floyd Little' in the very early years of this franchise. How Taylor is not in the Hall--I just don't understand. Is 'Bambi' in the 'Hall' ...oh my goodness yes! Was Taylor better than him the first few years they have in common? .......... Oh my!!! I didn't realize that there was a better receiver, back then, than Bambi !!" Why yes!!! Lionel Taylor should be in the Hall.!!!
Special mentions for Steve Watson (Steve Largent type and best 'Slow White Receiver' I've seen). Haven Moses and the M&M connection. Mark Jackson for ending 'The Drive'. and EddieMc for being there when we needed you. We love you Eddie!!
My tight end is (and I'll tell you. As an an old-timer, I really thought about Riley Odoms.) Odoms was maybe the best 'all-around-tight-end' to ever play the game but he was not Shannon Sharpe. Most of you know about Shannon's mouth...I love that part of him also. Many of you may not know that (when he was trying to make the team, as a quite low draft pick) that he walked into Dan's office and told him, "You will never see me come here out of shape...and you will never have any issues with me outside this office." Whatever that 'open and volgarious personality' Shannon had...he kept it inside the stadium. You have to love Shannon---you just have too--and love him some more. Somewhere in this post I think I said that Tom Jackson was my favorit player. I need to correct that. Austin Goose Gonsolin (because of my childhood) will always hold that. Shannon somehow moved up the charts of my heart and now sits there with Tom. Hmmm, I hope this country lives long enough for me to watch Woodyard for a few years. A Tom Jackson, Shannon Sharpe type of player.
My tight end is Shannon Sharpe.
Well, I think through all the distraction I have covered all positions. Its funny when you do something like this--trying to be objective while mushing (and sometimes tearing) through memory lane is a funny thing.
I will make this statement as fact:
I have no regrets being a Denver Bronco Fan over these near Fifty Years.
I love all you fellow fans, I hope this post makes sense.