Denver Broncos Greats... By The Numbers: #20

The number 20 jersey has been worn by nineteen players in the history of the Denver Broncos. Five Cornerbacks, 8 Halfback/Running Backs, 2 Defensive Back's, 2 Safeties and a Returner. 

  Here are the Candidates for the Greatest Bronco to wear #20...


Brian Dawkins S 2009-Present
Travis Henry RB 2007
Mike Bell RB 2006
Garrison Hearst RB 2004
Roosevelt Williams CB 2003
Delvin Hughley CB 2001
Tory James CB 1996, ‘98-99
Greg Lewis RB 1992
Daryll Jones DB 1987
Kevin Clark DB 1990-91
  Louis Wright CB 1975-86
Charles Greer DB 1968-74
Billy Ray Fletcher DB 1966
Willie West CB 1964
Tommy Minter HB 1962
Daniel E. Smith HB 1961
Jerry Traynham HB 1961
Henry Bell HB 1960

As you can see, there's a lot of Orange to delve through. So let's get to it.                       

Halfback Henry Bell wasn't drafted. Heck, he didn't even go to college. Before coming to Denver, he played football at Valdosta High School in Georgia. Henry's pro career lasted 10 games in a Bronco uniform. During the 1960 season,  Bell ran for 238 yards on 43 carries and a 5.5 yard average. His longest run was 69 yards, but he never found the end zone. He also returned 2 kickoffs 60 yards.

Jerry Traynham played Halfback for the Broncos in 1961. He appeared in 2 games, with 6 carries for 12 yards and caught one pass for (-1) yard.

Daniel E. Smith 
appeared in 4 games as a Bronco in 1961, compiling no stats.

Tommy Minter was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the 9th round (72nd overall) in the 1962 AFL Draft and the Minnesota Vikings in the 19th round (254th overall) in the 1962 NFL Draft. Minter was a track star and a two-way football player for Baylor in college. He had a 12 game NFL career, playing 5 with the Buffalo Bills and 7 with the Broncos in 1962. During his time in Denver, Minter returned 2 punts for 1 yard and 10 kickoffs for 227 yards.

Willie West was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 4th round (37th overall) of the 1960 NFL Draft. All total, he had a nine year career professionally. He played in the NFL for the St. Louis Cardinals and in the AFL, he was a member of the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins. He was an AFL All-Star for the Bills in 1963, and for the Dolphins in 1966. He played 7 games at Cornerback for the Broncos in 1964, with 1 interception. Willie also played 3 games for the Jets that year.

Billy Ray Fletcher played in one game for the Broncos during the 1966 season.

Charles Greer was the Broncos 13th round (330th overall) selection  in the 1968 NFL Draft. He spent 7 years patrolling the left side of the secondary,  playing Corner and both Safety positions. Charlie started 84 of his 88 games with 17 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries. He was the primary Punt returner with 55 returns for a 7.7 average and one touchdown. Greer returned 2 kickoffs a total of 41 yards in 1968.

Kevin Clark made 3 interceptions as a Defensive Back, but was the main Return man in Denver during his 4 years with the club. Clark appeared in 26 games and started 3. He returned 59 punts 574 yards, a 9.7 average and 1 touchdown. He ran back 24 kicks 583 yards for a 24.3 average. Kevin was #2 in the League in Punt Returns with a 12.9 average in 1987. In 1990, he led the league in Kick Returns with a 25.3 average. After retiring from the Broncos he became a member of the Denver Broncos Alumni Association and in 2008, he was named head coach for Arvada High School in Denver, dragging along former Bronco Tyrone Braxton with him.


Daryll Jones was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 7th round (181st overall) of the 1984 NFL Draft. He played 2 seasons for the Packers before joining the Broncos in 1987. He started one game as a replacement player during the Player Strike and didn't record any stats.

Greg Lewis was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 5th round (115th overall) of the 1991 NFL Draft. He played two seasons for the Denver Broncos, appearing in all 32 games and starting six of them. He rushed 172 times for 644 yards, a 3.7 average and 8 touchdowns. He also caught 6 passes for 39 yards and returned a kickoff for 20 yards. Greg wore #41 in 1991 before switching to #20 in 1992.

Tory James was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 2nd round (44th overall) of the 1996 NFL Draft. Tory played the first 3 of his 10 year career in a Bronco uniform. He also played for the Oakland Raiders before finishing with the Cincinnati Bengals, where he made his only Pro Bowl appearance. Tory played 48 games as a Bronco, starting six. In that time, he made 64 Tackles, forced 2 Fumbles, recovered 2 Fumbles and had 7 interceptions. James missed the entire 1997 season after he tore the patellar tendon in his right knee during the 1st preseason game. Fortunately, he was able to return from surgery and continue his career. At that time, that injury could easily kill a players livelihood.

Delvin Hughley was a Practice Squad player for the Baltimore Ravens that the Denver Broncos signed on Christmas Eve in 2001. He spent the rest of the season as an Inactive player on the team roster and was released in August of 2002. He went on to have a viable career as a defensive back for the Colorado Crush of the Arena Football League from 2003-2008.

Roosevelt Williams was originally drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 3rd round (72nd overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. He signed with the Broncos on September 1st, 2003 after being waived by Chicago in the final cutdown of training camp. He spent the next 2 games on the game day Inactive List before being released September 17, 2003.

Garrison Hearst 
was drafted by the Phoenix Cardinals in the 1st round (3rd overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft. After playing 5 years with the San Francisco 49ers and 4 years as a Cincinnati Bengal and a Arizona Cardinal, Garrison signed with the Denver Broncos for his final season. Denver used him as a 3rd down specialist. The 2-time Pro Bowler (1998,2001) appeared in 7 games for the Broncos in 2004, gaining 81 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries before ending up on Injured Reserve with a broken hand. He was not resigned in 2005. Hearst was named the NFL AP Comeback Player of the Year in 1995 and 2001 after coming back from major injuries.

Mike Bell was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2006 by the Denver Broncos. After a  strong training camp, Bell got the starting nod at tailback over Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne. Tatum was the Bell who ended up starting the first regular season game and Mike was used in a backup role. He had mixed results when he got his opportunities. He was put in against Indianapolis in Week 8 and ran off 135 yards and two touchdowns in just one half, filling in for an injured Tatum. He started the following week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but only gained 28 yards on 17 attempts. That result put him on the Inactive List in Week 10 against the Raiders. Still, Mike led the Broncos with eight rushing scores. He was released by the Broncos on July 21, 2008 having played in 20 games with 3 starts and 680 rushing yards. Bell won a Super Bowl Ring with the New Orleans Saints after the 2009 season and currently plays for the Cleveland Browns.

Travis Henry was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 2nd round (58th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft. He was the Bill's starting RB 3 of the 4years he played there. In 2002, Henry went to the Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,438 yards. He played the next 2 years for the Tennessee Titans where he had his 3rd 1,200+ yard season. The Broncos signed him in March of 2007 and he led the NFL in rushing after the first four games of the season before nagging injuries disrupted his spot in the lineup. Travis played in 12 games and ended up starting 7 of them anyway. He gained 691 yards on 167 carries, scored 4 touchdowns and added 7 catches for 65 yards.
 Henry is probably better known for fathering at least eleven children by ten different women and his failed Cocaine distributorship than 4 good games for the Broncos.

Marlon McCree was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 7th round (233rd overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft. He also played for the Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers and San Diego Chargers before signing with the Denver Broncos in March of 2008. Marlon appeared in 8 games and started 7, with 31 total Tackles and 2 Passes Defensed along side Marquand Manuel in one of the worst Safety Tandems the Broncos ever fielded.

Brian Dawkins was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2nd round (61st overall) of the 1996 NFL Draft. He played 13 years with the Eagles, going to the Pro Bowl 7 times. On  February 28, 2009, Dawkins became a Denver Bronco at the behest of Josh McDaniels and a pocketful of change. Brian proved that though he may have lost a step, he could still play at a high level as he was named to his 8th Pro Bowl. Dawkins has started 27 games for the Broncos, all 16 in 2009 and 11 in 2010 when injury shortened his season. So far, he has 2 Sacks, 3 interceptions, 3 Forced Fumbles, 3 Fumble Recoveries, 16 Pass Defensed and 182 Total Tackles in his 2 seasons with the Broncos. A fan favorite in Denver and Philadelphia, Brian Dawkins is a lock for the Hall of Fame. He might be the greatest Eagle to wear #20, but he's not the greatest Bronco.

The Greatest Bronco To Wear #20 is...



  Louis Wright CB 1975-86

 

 
Louis Wright was drafted by the Broncos with the 17th overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft. He played his entire 12 year NFL career for the Denver Broncos. It didn't take him long to break into the starting lineup. He started 11 games as a rookie, making 2 interceptions and recovering a fumble.He followed that up with a breakout year (1977), intercepting 3 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown and helping lead the Broncos to their first Super Bowl (XII). 

Here are some of Wright's accomplishments:
  • 1977 Football Digest NFL Defensive Back of the Year.
  • NFL 1970s All-Decade Team.
  • One of nine players in franchise history to be selected to at least 5 Pro Bowls (1977, 1978, 1979, 1983 and 1985).
  • Made his 1st pick-six in 1977 against the Raiders in Week 5.
  • Named 1st-Team All-Pro in both 1978 and 1979.
  • Named 2nd-Team All-Conference in 1980 and 1981.
  • Had a career-high 6 passes interceptions in 1983.
  • Had 2 career Fumble returns for a touchdown (82 yards in 1979 and 27 yards in 1984). 
  • Blocked a Field Goal in 1985 during the Week 11 game against the Chargers, running it back 60 yards for his 4th and final career touchdown. That block won the game (in OT) for the Broncos.
  • Played in two Super Bowls (XII, XXI).
  • Named to the Broncos 50th Anniversary Team.
 
In his NFL career, Wright finished with 26 interceptions for 360 yards and 1 touchdown. He also recovered 11 fumbles and returned two for touchdowns. In addition to his cover skills, Wright was also one of the best run supporting Cornerbacks of his era. His feats eventually earned him the nickname "Lou-dini."

 

Joe Collier, former Broncos Defensive Coordinator and creator of the Orange Crush defense had this to say about Louis Wright: 

"They use a term today of shutdown cornerback. We didn't have that term back then, but Louie Wright was a shutdown cornerback. He was a great run defender. He played the left side and in those days most teams were right-handed and their running plays usually went to our left side."
The story in that link points out that Louis along with Pittsburgh Steelers Mel Blount and Oakland Raiders Mike Haynes were considered the premiere Corners in their time. Blount and Haynes made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But Wright has not. It is possible that the difference in interceptions is what's preventing Wright  from getting that gold jacket---Blount-57, Haynes-46 and Wright 26--but Collier doesn't agree.

"He couldn't catch the ball very well," Collier said. "But he knocked down more passes than anybody else."

Perhaps someone should go back and watch game film on Louie. The League didn't start recording Passes Defense statistics until 2001 and I'll bet they would find enough to get him into the HOF. 

He was inducted to the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame in 1993. Louis is currently a football assistant coach and Physical Education teacher at Rangeview High School in Aurora. He is also the Defensive Coordinator for the Metro State Football Roadrunners along with Darius Watts (Head coach) and Tom Nalen (O-Line coach).


MHR gives a Mile High Salute to Louis Wright.

Go Broncos!
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