On February 3, 2009 Studbucket posted this expanded look into the disparity between teams with less success than the Broncos having more Hall of Famers. Since then, Floyd Little (Class of 2010) and Shannon Sharpe (Class of 2011) have been elected to the hall effectively doubling our presence in Canton. Studbucket has graciously updated the numbers. So, after the jump, let's take a look at how things have changed over the last two years.
14 different NFL teams came into existence between 1960 and 1967. The 14 teams to enter the NFL between 1960 and 1967 are Atlanta, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Minnesota, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets, Oakland, San Diego, and Houston/Tennessee. Combined they have 18 Super Bowl titles and 92 Hall-of-Famers.
Since that February 3rd post, one of these teams has won the Super Bowl (New Orleans, 2009). 11 Hall of Famers from these teams have been added honoring 7 teams (2009 - Bruce Smith - BUF, Bob Hayes - DAL, Derrick Thomas-KC, Ralph Wilson - BUF, Randall McDaniel - MIN, John Randle -MIN; 2010 - Rickey Jackson - NO, Floyd Little - DEN, Emmet Smith - AZ (I kid, I kid) ; 2011 - Dion Sanders - ATL/DAL, Shannon Sharpe - DEN).
New HOFers by Team:
- DAL - 3
- BUF - 2
- DEN - 2
- MIN - 2
- ATL - 1
- KC - 1
- NO - 1
Out of those 14 teams, only Dallas, Oakland, and Miami have a list of franchise accomplishments that can be considered better than Denver's. All three of those teams have multiple Super Bowl wins, a storied history, and a total of 35 Hall-of-Famers between them all. In fact, after Denver the next two most storied franchises on that list, Kansas City (9 HOFers) and Minnesota (10 HOFers), have only one Super Bowl win between them (and that came in a game where they played each other).
So given the context, let's revisit where Denver stacked up before Little and Sharpe were given their due in six important categories: Winning %, Super Bowls Titles, Conference Titles, Division TItles, Playoff Berths, and Hall-of-Famers.
I don't have to tell you that the last couple years have taken a toll on a few of these categories but one.
This is how it looks at present:
As can be seen in the tables above, Denver has dropped below average in Division Titles and Playoff Berths while remaining below average in Hall-of-Famers. The drops certainly don't bode well for current players getting into Canton, but considering our success previous to the last couple years the disparity in Hall of Famers is still unacceptable.
In the original post, Studbucket noted the reasons for the lack of Hall-of-Famers was because Denver was in the AFL, then they stunk (think 2010 all the time), and they were never on TV because of their lack of quality and time zone. However, by the mid-to-late 1970s NFL football was becoming more and more prominent on the airwaves. Denver was maturing as a good football team. Since then, the Broncos have been in the national spotlight, mustering a grand total of four hall-of-famers.
Some may chalk it up to much ballyhooed "East-Coast bias", but that argument can easily be shot down by pointing to San Francisco, Oakland, Kansas City, and Minnesota as Peter King did in a recent article. It's not so much an "East-Coast bias" as much as it is a "Mountain Time Zone Snub" (granted outside of the the Arizona Cardinals for some of the year - seriously guys get with the daylight savings program - Denver is the only team in that time zone. The Cardinals clearly get their players considered when observing PST).
Though we've had a little success with getting deserving players into the hall in the past couple years, we continue to have no logical justification for why Denver is still representationally deficient in Canton. Clearly Denver deserves, statistically speaking, two to three more hall-of-famers to simply be average.
So which four players should get in? Here's out updated master list of deserving candidates. Unfortunately some of these deserving players are going to face incredible difficulty, especially considering the back-log of players at the same position waiting to get in. Also included for your reference is the eligibility status of each player.
The Dark Ages (1960-1975)
Lionel Taylor, WR [Senior Committee]
Rich Jackson, DE [Senior Committee]
Austin "Goose" Gonsoulin, S [Senior Committee]
Floyd Little, RB [Inducted 2010]
The Orange Crush (1976-1980)
Randy Gradishar, ILB [Senior Committee]
Tom Jackson, OLB [Senior Committee]
Billy Thompson, S [Senior Committee]
Louis Wright, CB [Senior Committee]
The Reeves Era (1981-1994)
Dennis Smith, S [Eligible for Standard Selection until 2019]
Karl Mecklenberg, OLB/ILB [Eligible for Standard Selection until 2019]
Dan Reeves, Coach [Eligible for Standard Selection until 2028]
The Shanahan Age (1995-Present)
Steve Atwater, S [Eligible for Standard Selection until 2024]
Shannon Sharpe, TE [Inducted 2011]
Terrell Davis, RB [Eligible for Standard Selection until 2027]
On Deck (Soon to be Eligible)
Tom Nalen, C [Eligible for Standard Selection 2013-2033
Rod Smith, WR [Eligible for Standard Selection 2012-2032]
Jason Elam, K [Eligible for Standard Selection 2014-2034]
Future Targets (Still Playing)
Champ Bailey, CB [Not even close to being eligible]
Based on their merits, all of those players have some claim to the Hall of Fame, but some will undoubtedly have a harder path to travel than others.
How Far We've Come and Where We Are Going
We have come a long way since February 3, 2009. The MHR HOF Committee and Alumni have successfully lobbied (to what degree is certainly debatable, but we'll take the tiniest fraction of credit we can get) in getting two deserving Broncos into the hall-of-fame. Though we're hardly more forty-eight hours removed from the announcement of the most recent class, we're already looking toward next year.
Who are folks we are now targeting?
Randy Gradishar, ILB [Senior Committee]
Steve Atwater, S [Eligible until 2024]
Over the coming months we'll have more information on how we're progressing. Until then... Here's some interesting data that make you go hmmmm... hunh?