Denver Broncos Greats... By The Numbers: #31

Fourteen players have worn the #31 jersey on Broncos team history. Seven Running Backs, four Safeties and three Cornerbacks. Here are the candidates:

 

Darcel McBath S 2009-Present
P.J. Pope RB 2008
Kelly Herndon CB 2002-04
Darryl Pounds CB 2000
Derek Loville RB 1997-99
Rondell Jones S 1993-96
Victor Jones RB 1992
Kerry Porter RB 1990
Mike Harden CB 1980-88
Zachary Dixon RB 1979
Mike Franckowiak RB 1975-76
Bo Hickey FB 1967

Bo Hickey was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 14th round (357th overall) of the 1967 NFL Draft. He played for the Denver Broncos for one year before a foot injury did him in (it happened against the Jets in the next-to-last game of the regular season, a 33-24 win by the Broncos). Hickey had 73 rushes for 263 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 7 receptions for 36 yards and another touchdown.

Mike Franckowiak was drafted by the Broncos in the 3rd round (54th overall) of the 1975 NFL Draft. He played Fullback and kicked for Denver for 2  seasons, then played Tight End and kicked for Buffalo for 2 more years  before being released. For the Broncos, Mike started 1 of 28 games, with 26 yards on 13 carries and 4 catches for 42 yards. He also returned 2 kickoffs 22 yards.

Zachary Dixon was drafted by the Broncos in the 11th round (297th overall) of the 1979 NFL Draft. He played one year in Denver appearing in 5 games, mostly on Special Teams. Dixon rushed 3 times for 9 yards and returned 3 kickoffs a total of 53 yards. Upon leaving Denver, Zachary played 7 more seasons with the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Colts and Seattle Seahawks. His best season came in 1983 while playing for the Baltimore Colts and Seattle Seahawks. He led the NFL in kick returns (51) and kick return yards (1,171).

Kerry Porter was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 7th round (171st overall) of the 1987 NFL Draft. he played 1 year in Buffalo and 1 year with the Oakland Raiders before joining the Broncos in 1990. Kerry started 3 of 13 games, rushing for 3 yards on one carry. He also had 4 catches for 44 yards that year.

Victor Jones played for the Houston Oilers for 2 years before joining the Denver Broncos in 1992. He played in all 16 games, starting one. Victor had 3 catches for 17 yards and 2 Fumble Recoveries.

Rondell Jones was drafted by the Broncos in the 3rd round (69th overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft. He played in Denver for 4 years, appearing in 62 games and starting 3. Rondell made 63 Tackles, 2 interceptions and one Fumble Recovery. Jones broke into the league as a special teams player while backing up Pro Bowl safeties Steve Atwater and Dennis Smith. The plan was to have Jones eventually take over for Smith. But in March 1994, Rondell felt weaknesses in different areas of his body and noticed drippings from his eye lids. He was eventually diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disorder that affects the development of the immune system. He underwent surgery in April of 1994 and spent the next 2 months in the hospital after doctors removed his thymus gland in an effort to combat the disease. A hard-nosed, competitive player physical enough to play the run Jones is (6'2", 210 lbs) still fast and smart enough to play the pass. He moved on to start 12 games at Free Safety for the Baltimore Ravens in 1997.

Derek Loville broke in to the NFL playing for the Seattle Seahawks in 1990, mostly as a backup. He played there for 2 seasons before moving to the San Francisco 49ers where he become a starter. Loville's best year as a pro came in 1995 with the 49ers. He led them in rushing with 723 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 87 receptions for 662 yards. Derek joined the Broncos in 1997 and played through the 1997 season, appearing in 42 games. He had 488 yards and 4 touchdowns on 118 carries, a 4.1 average. He also caught 15 passes for 89 yards and returned 13 kickoffs for a 20.2 yard average. Loville was part of the Broncos two Super Bowl Champions.

Darryl Pounds was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the 3rd round (68th overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft. He played there for 5 seasons before joining the Broncos in 2000. He appeared in 9 games and did not compile any stats.

Kelly Herndon was originally signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 1999. And even though he entered his first NFL camp in 1999, he waited until 2002 to play in his first NFL game. The wait included two training camps with the San Francisco 49ers, one with the New York Giants, one season in the XFL, a spring in Barcelona with NFL Europe and one season serving on the Giants’ and Denver Broncos practice squads. Finally making his debut in 2002 for the Broncos, Kelly played in one game. He made an impact too, with 5 Tackles, 3 Assists, one Pass Defensed, one interception and one Fumble Recovery. He became the starter at Right Cornerback opposite Lenny Walls and then Champ Bailey. Herndon finished his 3 year stint in Denver with 144 Tackles, 1 Sack, 6 interceptions, 6 Forced Fumbles and 3 Fumble Recoveries starting 27 of 32 games. Upon leaving the Broncos, Kelly played for the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans. His best performance was in Super Bowl XL with the Seattle. Herndon intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass, returning it 76 yards, establishing a new Super Bowl record at that time.

Quentin Harris played in 6 games at Safety for the Broncos in 2006, making 4 Tackles.

Marviel Underwood was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 4th round (115th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft. He signed with the Denver Broncos in December, 2007 and was waived by the team on May 28, 2008.

P.J. Pope was signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2006. He spent the better part of two years bouncing from the Bears to the Green Bay Packers Practice Squads. In August of 2008, Pope was signed to the practice squad of the Broncos. He was released and re-signed in October. Pope was promoted to the Broncos active roster on November 4, a day after  Andre Hall and Michael Pittman were placed on Injured Reserve. P.J. became the starter when Peyton Hillis also went on Injured Reserve. Overall in 2008, Pope started 1 of 5 games and ran for 130 yards on 17 carries. He also caught 3 passes for 24 yards and one touchdown. He was waived by the Broncos on February 11, 2009.

Darcel McBath was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 2nd round (48th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. He played in 13 games during his rookie year accumulating 26 tackles (22 solo, 4 assisted).He had a team-high 11 Tackles on Special Teams. Darcel made his 1st career interception in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns. His next interception wasn't until Week 14 against Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning. Unfortunately McBath suffered a broken forearm a few plays later, placing him on Injured Reserve for the rest of the season. In 2010, McBath missed the 1st two games of the season due to injury before his season debut against Indianapolis in Week 3.  McBath tied for 3rd on the team with 5 tackles. He missed 3 games due to injury and made 4 Tackles with one pass breakup. At Oakland (Week 15), Darcel returned after missing another 3 games with an injury and tied for  3rd on the team with five tackles (all solo) in his first career start. All told, he has started 1 of 20 games with 32 Tackles, 2 interceptions and 4 Passes Defensed. If McBath ever stays healthy for an entire season, he will make an impact in the secondary, but like Jake Plummer once said, "you can't make the club in the tub."


Now Derek Loville and his 2 Rings make a pretty good case for this distinction, 

but my choice for the Greatest Bronco to wear #31 goes to...


CB  Mike Harden 


Mike Harden was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 5th round (131st overall) of the 1980 NFL Draft. He took over as the starting Right Cornerback in '83 and held the job for 5 seasons before spending his last year in Denver at Free Safety. In his 9 seasons as a Bronco, Harden started 98 of 128 games. He made 1 Sack, 33 interceptions, 4 touchdowns and 11 Fumble Recoveries. there are no records for tackles or Pass defenses back then. Harden also returned 7 punts for a 14.6 average including one for a 32-yard touchdown against the Eagles in Week 3 of the 1086 season. On Kickoffs, he had 26 returns for a 15.9 average.

 

Mike was involved in more than one jaw-shattering hits in NFL history. He is the Bronco that Bo Jackson butted over on his way to his first pro touchdown in 1987 on Monday Night Football.

In 1988, Harden laid out Seattle Seahawks receiver Steve Largent. Largent's career came close to ending when he was bashed to the turf by Harden. Largent's helmet was mangled and two teeth were broken. He was out cold for five minutes.

When the Broncos and Seahawks met again later that season (they were division rivals at the time), Largent got a measure of revenge. After Harden intercepted a Dave Krieg pass in the endzone, he returned it out near the 20 when Largent came out of the blue with a monster hit that sent Harden flying. The hit was perfectly legal. Later on, Largent admitted he wanted to hit Harden as hard as he could. "It wasn't meant to be a vindictive thing but it sure felt good."

The arrival of Steve Atwater in 1989 made Harden expendable and he signed with the Oakland Raiders.


Harden's Team records

  • Most Interceptions (1984-88)
  • Interception yards (1983, 1985-86)
  • Interception TD's  (1984-86)
  • 5th in Career Interceptions

Most yardage on Interception Returns

  • Career 2nd (643)
  • Season 1st (179)

Most Interceptions Returned for Touchdown

  • Career 1st (4) Tied
  • Season 1st (2) Tied


MHR gives a Mile High Salute to Mike Harden as the Greatest Bronco to wear #31.

Go Broncos!
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