In the continued "Greatest Broncos By the Numbers" series, we come to the number 19 jersey. The Denver Broncos have had 5 players don the jersey: three receivers, one quarterback and a kicker. Only two players on this list spent more than one season with the Broncos. This list isn't very long, but nevertheless, let's take a look at each player that wore the #19 for the Denver Broncos to determine who is the greatest. Here are the candidates:
Eddie Royal WR 2008-current
Taylor Jacobs WR 2007
Brian Clark WR 2006
Fred Steinfort K 1979-81
Don Breaux QB 1963
Candidate 1: Eddie Royal
Eddie Royal was drafted in the second round (42nd overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. Coming out of Virginia Tech, he was brought into Denver by Mike Shanahan to give quarterback Jay Cutler yet another weapon to go alongside Brandon Marshall. Eddie didn't disappoint. He started in his first regular season game against the Oakland Raiders and caught 9 passes for 146 yards and a TD, boosting the Broncos to a 41-14 win. Nine receptions is a Broncos franchise record for a player making his rookie debut. He finished the 2008 season with 91 receptions, second most in NFL history for a rookie, behind only Anquan Boldin who had 101. His 980 yards and five touchdowns are both Broncos rookie records.
In 2009, against the San Diego Chargers, Royal became the first player in Broncos history, and only the 11th player to date in NFL history, to return a kickoff (93 yards) and a punt (71 yards) for touchdowns in the same game. Apart from that, his 2009 was less productive than his rookie campaign. He finished with 37 receptions for 345 yards and no TDs.
2010 was a new beginning for Eddie Royal. No longer in the shadow of Brandon Marshall, he would be able to see more pass targets and help the Broncos offense move the ball. He was able to up his production from 2009 by producing 59 receptions for 627 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2010, but due to a hip injury that required surgery at the end of the season, he wasn't able to surpass his rookie campaign in 2008. His career in Denver continues and we will hopefully see more production from Eddie in 2011 and beyond.
Candidate 2: Taylor Jacobs
Taylor Jacobs was drafted in the second round (42nd overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. Three seasons went by and his most productive season saw him put up 16 receptions for 178 yards and no touchdowns in 2004. He was released after the 2005 season and picked up by the San Francisco 49ers, who hoped to pick up a diamond in the rough. For the 49ers in 2006 and 2007 combined, he totaled 7 receptions for 69 yards and 1 TD. After this lackluster performance, he was dropped and signed a 1 year deal with the Denver Broncos in 2007. He was active for 6 games and only saw time as a return man, where he had 3 kick returns for 35 yards and a long of 15 yards. He hasn't been in the NFL since the Broncos released him later that year.
Candidate 3: Brian Clark
Brian Clark was brought to the Denver Broncos as an undrafted rookie in 2006. He spent some time on the practice squad and was about to be signed off of waivers by the Green Bay Packers, but then a chance encounter (which is a must read story from Andrew Mason) with Ted Sundquist led the Broncos to retain Clark and develop him as a return man. Clark stayed with the Broncos through the 2006 season and was released in 2007.
Brian Clark was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he played a handful of games between 2007 and 2009. He was released and then signed with the Detroit Lions on March 8, 2010. He was released from Detroit on September 4, 2010 and signed with the Florida Tuskers of the UFL on November 16, 2010, where he remains to this day.
Candidate 4: Fred Steinfort
Fred Steinfort was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 5th round (146th overall) of the 1976 NFL Draft. Steinfort, who was a 23-year old left-footed soccer style kicker from Germany (and Boston College), was supposedly brought in to be the replacement of one of the all time greats, Hall of Fame kicker George Blanda. When Blanda was asked about Steinfort, he replied, "What was it Norm Van Brocklin always said - that the immigration laws ought to be tightened?" Blanda allegedly never said hello to Steinfort during training camp in 1976.
Fred Steinfort played 8 years in the NFL, 3 as a Bronco. He made 43 of 64 field goals (67.2%) and hit 68 of 70 extra points during his 33 games as a Denver Bronco. He remains in the franchise record book, being one of two players (the other is Jason Elam) to hit 5 field goals of at least 50 yards. One of those was a 57 yard field goal against the Washington Redskins on October 13th, 1980. Old-school Broncos followers will remember that on September 29th, 1980 against New England, then-coach Red Miller had kicker Fred Steinfort attempt a 73-yard field goal at the end of the half. It was short by two dozen yards. His leg was strong, but it wasn't that strong.
Candidate 5: Don Breaux
In 1963, Don Beaux was brought to the Broncos as an undrafted free agent to be the backup for fellow rookie quarterback Mickey Slaughter (a 7th round pick). Beaux played in 9 games for the Broncos in 1963. He was 0-2 in 2 starts, throwing 70 for 138 (50.7% completion percentage) for 935 yards, 7 TDs, 6 INTs and a 71.4 QB Rating. After the season, he went to the San Diego Chargers where he spent the next two years (1964 and 1965), throwing 2 TDs and 4 INTs.
His playing career may have ended, but his coaching career was just beginning. Breaux coached in 1972 with the Houston Oilers, 1994 with the New York Jets and 1995-2002 with the Carolina Panthers. Most notably, however, were his years in Washington. Breaux spent 17 years with the Washington Redskins (1981-1993 and 2004-2007) where he won three Super Bowls as an offensive coordinator under head coach Joe Gibbs.
Who is the greatest Bronco to wear #19?
A Mile High Salute to you Eddie!
Make sure to leave your vote, below, to have your voice heard. Who do you think is the greatest player to wear #19 for the Denver Broncos?