Twenty-two Bronco players have worn the #26 jersey in the history of the franchise. Seven Running Backs, six Cornerbacks, five Defensive Backs, two Safeties, one Fullback and one Wide Receiver. Here is the list of candidates for the Greatest Bronco to wear #26:
George Saimes didn't do much in a Bronco uniform, but his story is interesting. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 6th round (48th overall) of the 1963 AFL Draft and the Los Angeles Rams in the 6th round (71st overall) of the 1963 NFL Draft. But instead, George played for the Buffalo Bills for 7 years. He helped the Bills win AFL Championships in 1964 and 1965. From 1964-68, Saimes went to the AFL All-star Game and made the All-AFL Team in 1964, 1965 and 1967. He is a member of the AFL All-Time Team and was once considered "the finest open-field tackler in the league." George played with the Broncos for the last 3 years of his career. He started all 13 games at Free Safety in 1971 and recorded one fumble recovery.
Eric Brown was drafted by the Broncos in the 2nd round (61st overall) of the 1998 NFL Draft. He spent 4 years in Denver, starting 52 of 53 games. Eric made 273 Tackle, 5.5 Sacks, 6 interceptions, 2 Forced Fumbles and 6 Fumble Recoveries. Brown earned a Super Bowl ring with the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII. Following the 2001 season, Eric played the last 3 years of his career in Houston.
The Defensive Backs
Tommy Janik was drafted by the Broncos in the 3rd round (21st overall) of the 1963 AFL Draft. He played Safety and Punter in 23 games on the AFL Broncos 1963-64 teams. Defensively, Tommy made 3 interceptions and ran a 22-yarder back for a touchdown off of Len Dawson in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs during week 8 of the 1964 season. Janik punted 10 times with a 37.4 average and a long of 49 yards, also in 1964. After he left Denver, Tommy became a 2-time AFL All-Star (1965, 1967) with Buffalo and he was also a part of the Bills AFL Championship in 1965.
Lyle Pickens was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 9th round (231st overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft. He appeared in one game as a Bronco in 1987.
Chris Hale allegedly played Defensive Back in 1993 for the Broncos, but he didn't appear in a game.
Calvin Jones was drafted by Denver in the 15th round (373rd overall) of the 1973 NFL Draft. He was the starting Right Cornerback for his 4 year term with the Broncos. Jones started all but 2 of his 46 games as a Bronco, making 12 interceptions and 2 Fumble Recoveries, returning one 43 yards for a touchdown during a 44-13 win against the Cleveland Browns in the 3rd Week of the 1976 season. He now goes by Reverend Calvin Jones, Jr. and has been a senior pastor of Providence Baptist Church of San Francisco since 1991.
Ben Smith was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1st round (22nd overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft. He played 3 years for the Eagles before coming to Denver. Ben started 14 games at Left Cornerback for the Broncos in 1994. During that time, Smith made 72 Tackles and one interception. He played 2 more seasons in his career, finishing with the Arizona Cardinals.
Tim McKyer was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 3rd round (64th overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft. McKyer played in 12 NFL seasons for 7 different teams from 1986 to 1997, including the 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons before playing his last season for the Broncos in 1997. Tim played in all 16 games that year, starting one. He made 16 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 interception and Forced 1 Fumble. McKyer has 3 Super Bowl Rings, two with the 49ers in 1988 and 1989 and one as a Bronco.
Jack Williams was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 4th round (119th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. He saw time in 14 games during his rookie year, recording 7 tackles on defense. Williams finished the season tied for 6th on the team with 5 Special Teams stops (all on kickoff coverage). In 2009, Jack played in the first 7 games in Denver, making 12 Tackles, 3 Pass Defenses and one Fumble Recovery. Released by the Broncos November 7, 2009, Williams was claimed off Waivers 3 days later by the Detroit Lions. He played in one game for the Lions but a knee injury put him on the Reserve/Injured list for the rest of the season.
Ty Law was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 1st round (23rd overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft. He played 10 years in New England before playing for the New York Jets twice, with 2 seasons in Kansas City in between. Law signed with the Broncos on November 7, 2009, joining the oldest Defensive backfield in the league. Ty's final game with the Broncos came on January 3, 2010. He finished the season with 10 tackles, and 1 interception run back for 37 yards and was released on February 25, 2010. A 5-time Pro Bowler & 2-time First-Team All-Pro, Ty Law had 53 career interceptions, good for 23rd All-time, and 7 career pick-sixes which is 8th All-Time. He also won 3 Super Bowls with the Patriots.
The Running Backs
Chris Brewer was a 9th round (245th overall) draft pick for the Denver Broncos in the 1984 NFL Draft. He appeared in 13 games in Denver in 1984, rushing for 28 yards on 10 carries and catching 2 passes for 20 yards. He Fumbled once and recovered 1 Fumble. Ironically, Chris played 3 games for the Chicago Bears and had better success, accounting for 3 touchdowns.
Paul Smith was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 5th round (132nd overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft and is not to be confused with Defensive End Paul Smith who also played for the Broncos from 1968-1980. This Paul Smith appeared in 14 games during the 2007 season and did not register any stats.
Now a case could be made for Eric Brown since he played for the Broncos for 4 years and won a Super Bowl Ring. Likewise, Tim McKyer won a Ring, but he was a mercenary who played for a handful of teams and actually had better years outside of the Mile High City. Bobby Humphrey had a few good years in Denver and could have been the greatest Bronco to wear #26, had he not turned selfish. No, the way I see it and it will surely be arguable, is that the
MHR gives a Mile High Salute to Clinton Portis as the Greatest Bronco to wear #26.