Two Punters, three Wideouts and a half dozen passers make up the contingent that wore the 17 jersey. The nominees are:
Jarious Jackson QB 2000-03
Hugh Millen QB 1994-95
Steve DeBerg QB 1981-83
Matt Robinson QB 1980
Larry Steele P 1974
Scotty Glacken QB 1966-67
George Shaw QB 1962
The Greatest Denver Bronco to wear #17 is...
But first let's take a look at the other players.
Scotty Glacken was drafted by the Broncos in the 7th round (62nd overall) of the 1966 AFL Draft. He played two seasons with Denver, playing 10 games and starting 1 losing effort. He went 6/15 (40%) for 84 yards and 1 touchdown for an 81.0 QB rating. Scotty's claim to fame is leading the Broncos to a 1967 exhibition victory over the Detroit Lions, the first time an AFL team defeated an NFL team.
Larry Steele played one game for the Broncos in 1974, but didn't see any action.
Matt Robinson came over in the Craig Penrose trade after playing 3 years for the New York Jets. As a Bronco, he appeared in 14 games and started 7 with a 4-3 record in 1980. He went 78/162 (48.1%) for 942 yards, 2 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 39.7 QB rating, proving that the Broncos were better off with Penrose and the draft picks. After one year with Denver, he played 2 years with the Buffalo Bills. He was also quarterback for the Jacksonville Bulls and the Portland Breakers of the United States Football League in 1984 and 1985, respectively.
Hugh Millen was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 3rd round (71st overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft. He played 1 year for the Rams, 3 years for the Falcons and 2 years for the Patriots before spending his last 2 seasons with the Broncos. Appearing in 8 games and starting two, Millen had a 0-2 record. He went 107/171 (62.6%) for 1,090 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions for a 79.3 QB rating.
Jarious Jackson was drafted by the Broncos in the 7th round (214th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft. Jarious played 4 seasons as a backup in Denver, appearing in 5 games and starting one (a loss). He was 11/22 (50%) for 114 yards, 1 interception for a 46.4 QB rating. He currently plays for the BC Lions of the CFL.
Darius Watts was drafted by the Broncos in the 2nd round (54th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft. He played in Denver for two years. In his rookie year, Darius caught 31 passes for 385 yards and one touchdown. An average of 14.8 ypc. He saw action in all 16 games, while starting two. He also had five carries for 33 yards. After a decent rookie campaign, Watts only had two catches for 22 yards in his sophomore year. He was inactive for the last ten games and after another erratic pre-season, he was released on September 2, 2006. He is currently playing for the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League and is the head coach for the Metropolitan State College of Denver Roadrunners club football team.
Glenn Martinez originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent, signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers in April, 2004. In January 2007, the Broncos signed Glenn to a futures contract. He saw action during preseason, but was released in the final roster cuts and was added to the Practice Squad. On 29 September 2007, Martinez was promoted to the active roster because of injuries. He saw action in week 4 against the Indianapolis Colts, but did not record any stats. The following game, he posted a career highs with six catches for 70 yards while adding an 18-yard punt return. Martinez was waived on November 11, 2008 to make room for running back Tatum Bell and in January 2009, was signed to a future contract by the Houston Texans. In his 2 seasons on the Broncos, Glenn appeared in 14 games and started one, catching 17 passes for 207 yards for a 12.2 average and 0 TD's. He returned 19 punts an average of 11.2 yards and ran one back for a touchdown. Martinez also returned 16 kickoffs for a 20.6 yard average.
Mitch Berger spent 14 years in the NFL after being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 6th round (193rd overall) of the 1994 NFL Draft. He made stops in Minnesota, St. Louis, New Orleans, Arizona, and Pittsburgh before coming to Denver. Most here are familiar with the story. Mitch was signed by the Broncos when it was decided that Brett Kern couldn't handle the punting chores. However, Kern had a better season for the Tennessee Titans and Berger was released at season's end. Mitch played 10 games for the Broncos in 2009, booting 51 punts for a 42.0 average.
Britt Davis went undrafted in the 2009 NFL Draft and was signed by the New York Jets. He had 5 receptions for 54 yards in the preseason. Waived at the end of Training Camp, the Jets re-signed him to their practice squad in November. He was later waived on August 1, 2010 by the team. Britt spent the first 14 weeks of the 2010 season on the Broncos’ practice squad before being promoted. He appeared in 3 games without a catch.
The Runner up
George Shaw could be considered one of the more interesting stories in football history, even though he only played for seven seasons in the NFL. After being selected by the Baltimore Colts as the first player in the 1955 NFL Draft, Shaw quickly became the starter. Early in the 1956 season, he suffered a broken leg and was replaced by rookie backup Johnny Unitas. As Unitas embarked on his legendary career, Shaw lasted two more years in Baltimore as the backup before being traded to the New York Giants, where he played two seasons. In New York, he was the back up to Charlie Conerly, who was the League MVP in 1959. Conerly struggled with age and injuries in 1960, and was replaced by Shaw. At the end of the 1960 season, George moved on to the Minnesota Vikings because the Giants brought in new head coach Allie Sherman and acquired Y.A. Tittle from the San Francisco 49ers. Shaw played for one season in Minnesota. He started the first game in franchise history but was replaced in the first half by rookie backup Fran Tarkenton who took over the starting job. That brought him to the Broncos. He had 13 appearances with 1 start (which he won). He went 49/110 (44.5%) for 783 yards, 4 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and a 41.4 QB rating. He also ran for 1 touchdown. Shaw got his only start in Week 5, a Friday night game in October. The Oakland Raiders came to visit and the Broncos sent them packing with a 44-7 drubbing. George went 9/25 for 137 yards and 4 INT's, but Al Frazier and Gene Mingo each scored 2 touchdowns on the ground. Goose Gonsoulin returned a 64-yard pick-six and John McGeever had a 48 yard pick-six to put away the Raiders at the old Bears stadium. The very first time the Denver Broncos ever played a Turkey Day game was in 1962. The Broncos played the Titans and Shaw had his best game, with 12/26 for 117 yards, 2 TD's and 1 INT. Broncos VP Jim Saccomano recounted the story here.
George Shaw closed out his checkered pro career with the Broncos as Tripucka’s backup in 1962.
It should also be noted that the longest touchdown reception in Broncos history came on September 9, 1962 at Boston against the Patriots at Boston University Field. George Shaw connected with Jerry Tarr on a 97-yard touchdown pass that is still the a team record.
Steve DeBerg was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 10th round (275th overall) of the 1977 NFL Draft. His career spanned 21 years over 3 decades. In his 3 years with Denver, he appeared in 33 games and started 11 with a 5-6 record. He was 314/546 (57.5%) for 3,819 yards, 22 touchdowns, 24 interceptions and a 74.3 QB rating. He was also sacked 48 times and rushed for 2 touchdowns.
DeBerg began his NFL career in San Francisco. Coach Bill Walsh took over the team in 1979. In the 1979 and 1980 NFL seasons DeBerg set several records for number of passing attempts and completions. However, when Walsh drafted Joe Montana from Notre Dame, DeBerg was relegated to a backup role. Similar events unfolded again and again over the next decade: He was not only with the 49ers when they drafted Joe Montana, but also with the Denver Broncos when John Elway was drafted, and at Tampa Bay when both Steve Young and Vinny Testaverde were brought in.
Despite the fact that large portions of his career were spent as a backup, DeBerg ultimately accumulated some impressive NFL statistics, particularly during the early 1990s, when he was the starting QB for the Kansas City Chiefs. DeBerg's reputation is that of a journeyman, and he was also very much a "witness to history" who played an incidental role in significant events. But late in his career, DeBerg exhibited flashes of brilliance, as well as endurance and staying power that separated him from other journeymen and career backups.
Throughout his career, Steve was noted to be one of the best Play-action pass quarterbacks of all time. DeBerg also gained a reputation for playing through injuries. He has also preceded, backed up or succeeded a host of pretty good quarterbacks, including Jim Plunkett, Joe Montana, Craig Morton, John Elway, Steve Young, Vinny Testaverde, Dave Krieg and Dan Marino.
So by virtue of a career that lasted six times the average for a football player, much less a position that gets beat on nearly every single play and the many times he came off the bench and played through extraordinary pain; MHR gives a huge Mile High Salute to Steve DeBerg.