Eighteen players wore the #54 jersey in the history of the Denver Broncos. Seventeen Linebackers and a Guard. Before we begin, I have to tell you, the Guard might win here. The list of applicants in consideration for the Greatest Bronco to wear #54 is...
Lee Woodall LB 2001
Nate Wayne LB 1998-99
Britt Hager LB 1995-96
Mitch Donahue LB 1993-94
Keith Bishop G 1980, ‘82-89
Richard Baska LB 1976-77
Mike Lemon LB 1975
Ralph Cindrich LB 1974
Chip Myrtle LB 1967-72
Ron Sbranti LB 1966
Ed Cummings LB 1965
Larry Jordan LB 1964
Ed (Wahoo) McDaniel LB 1961-63
Ed "Wahoo" McDaniel was a Choctaw-Chickasaw Native American who played for the Houston Oilers (1960), Denver Broncos (1961-1963), New York Jets (1964-1965), Miami Dolphins (1966-1968) and became a famous Pro wrestler. He played Linebacker in the AFL for the Oilers and the Broncos, but Wahoo's star shone when he was traded to the (NFL) New York Jets in 1964. He quickly became a crowd favorite and once had 23 tackles in a single game, ironically against his former Bronco teammates. McDaniel was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the 1966 AFL expansion draft as the team's major name player. He started his Pro wrestling career while he was still playing football, wrestling during the off-season and playing football during the football season. In 1968, he knocked out two policemen in a fracas and was summarily shipped to the Chargers, but he never played a game for San Diego and began wrestling full-time. Wahoo was a top draw wherever he went. In his 3 years as a Bronco, he played in 42 games and made 6 interceptions. He also made 5 punts with a 34.6 average.
Some of Wahoo's other notables
- Former US President George Bush Sr was his baseball coach when he was a kid.
- He played college ball at Oklahoma as a Kicker, End, and Fullback.
- Kicked the 6th-longest punt in NCAA history for 91 yards.
- 2-time NWA American champion
- 5-time NWA United States champion and NWA National Heavyweight champion.
- Had a large impact on the career of Ric Flair.
- Inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame on May 21st, 1995.
- Inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2010.
Ed "Wahoo" McDaniel wasn't the Greatest Bronco to wear #54, but he might just be the most colorful.
Larry Jordan played 8 games for the Broncos in 1964. He is credited as having one kick return for no yards.
Ed Cummings played 14 games at Middle Linebacker for Denver in 1965, but didn't have any recordable stats.
Ron Sbranti was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 9th round (76th overall) of the 1966 AFL Draft and the San Francisco 49ers in the 10th round (147th overall) of the 1966 NFL Draft. He played 14 games for the Broncos in 1966.
Chip Myrtle played 5 of his 6 years with the Broncos wearing #54 (1967-72). During 1968 he wore #89 for some reason, but switched back to #54 the following year. In his time with the Broncos, Myrtle started 39 of 68 games, had 4 interceptions, 7 Fumble Recoveries and 1 Safety. He also had 2 kick returns for 1 yard.
Ralph Cindrich was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the 5th round (119th overall) of the 1972 NFL Draft, but released him near the end of the preseason. One week later, the Patriots claimed him off waivers. New England cut him before the start of the 1973 season, but he was picked up by the Houston Oilers, where he played the next two years. After being cut by the Denver Broncos during the 1975 preseason, the Oilers resigned Cindrich for the remainder of the season. He retired following the 1975 season.
Ralph Cindrich only played in 1 game with the Broncos, but his mark in the NFL has been as an Agent. While he was an Oiler, Ralph began Law school at South Texas College of Law. He started Cindrich & Co. in 1977 and became an Agent. During his 30+ years as an NFL agent, he has represented stars such as James Farrior, Bruce Gradkowski, Tarik Glenn, Jeff Blake and Brian Griese among others.
Mike Lemon was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 6th round (149th overall) of the 1975 NFL Draft. He played in 2 games for the Saints and 1 game for the Broncos in 1975, compiling no stats. He played the next 2 seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before retiring.
Richard Baska played in 18 games for the Broncos in 1976-77 and recovered one Fumble.
Keith Traylor was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 3rd round (61st overall) of the 1991 NFL Draft. He started 5 of 32 games during the 1991-92 seasons wearing #54 with the Broncos. Traylor made 66 Tackles, 1 Sack, Forced one Fumble and had a 13-yard kick return. Keith played for Green Bay (1993) and Kansas City (1995-96) before another 4 years with the Broncos, but this time he wore #94 and won two Super Bowl Rings.
Mitch Donahue was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 4th round (95th overall) of the 1991 NFL Draft. He played 2 seasons for the Niners before joining the Broncos. He played 16 games with the Broncos in 1993-94 and made one Tackle.
Britt Hager was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 3rd round (81st overall) of the 1989 NFL Draft. He played 6 seasons in Philly before coming to Denver in 1995. Hager started 5 of 18 games in 2 seasons for the Broncos. He made 39 Tackles, 1 interception and 1 Forced Fumble.
Nate Wayne was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 7th round (219th overall) of the 1998 NFL Draft. He played 16 games during hus 2 years in Denver, with 10 Tackles, 2 Sacks and one Forced Fumble.
Lee Woodall was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 6th round (182nd overall) of the 1994 NFL Draft. He spent 6 seasons in San Francisco, going to the Pro Bowl in 1995 and 1997. After a year with the Carolina Panthers Lee came to Denver in 2001. Woodall made 3 Tackles and 1 Sack in 14 games with the Broncos.
Patrick Chukwurah was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 5th round (157th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft. He played with the Vikes for 2 years and then came to Denver in December of 2003. He signed with the Denver Broncos, but was only on the 53-man roster for 2 days and was released on December 26. Denver re-signed Patrick after the season ended. In 2004, he wore #55 and played in 14 games with 4 tackles, mainly as a pass rushing Defensive End. In 2005, he donned #54 and played for 2 seasons, appearing in 28 games. Chukwurah recorded 34 Tackles, 4.5 Sacks 2 pass deflections and 1 Forced Fumble. Patrick played one year in Tampa Bay and currently plays for the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League.
D.D. Lewis played 4 years with the Seattle Seahawks from 2002-2006 and joined the Broncos for the 2007 season. He appeared in 5 games with the Broncos and then returned to Seattle for the last 2 seasons of his career.
Andra Davis was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 5th round (141st overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. He stayed with the Browns for 7 years. Andra joined the Broncos on February 28, 2009, signing a 2-year contract. In his lone season with the Broncos, Davis started 13 of 16 games, recording 90 tackles, 3 pass deflections and 3.5 sacks. He was released on March 11, 2010.
Lee Robinson went undrafted in the 2009 NFL Draft but was later signed by the Denver Broncos on April 26, 2009. He was waived in the last cuts at the end of preseason on September 4, 2009. He was signed to the Arizona Cardinals Practice Squad for 6 weeks and then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Practice Squad where he was waived , re-signed and waived again during 2010. The Broncos signed him to their Practice Squad on October 13th and promoted to the 53-man Roster in December and made his NFL debut on Special Teams at Arizona (12/12). Lee played the last 3 games in 2010 making 2 Tackles and one Fumble Recovery. Robinson was placed on Injured Reserve on Dec. 27, 2010. He is slated to make $330,000 in 2011.
It seems clear to me that the Greatest Bronco to wear #54 is...
Keith Bishop was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 6th round (157th overall) of the 1980 NFL Draft. He played his entire 10-year career in Denver, starting 87 of 129 games at Left Guard. Other than recovering 3 Fumbles and making the Pro Bowl in 1986 & 1987, Keith is known for being the Broncos best offensive lineman. Bishop played in 3 Super Bowls and was voted by the fans to the Broncos All-time 50th Anniversary team, 1st-team Offense. He is famously known in Bronco Country for injecting a touch of humor in a dire situation to loosen up his teammates.
On January 11, 1987, during the 1986 AFC Championship Game, the Broncos were at their own 2-yard line, down by a touchdown late in the 4th quarter. History was about to be made. This was "The Drive."
But here, I will let "Bish" tell his own tale:
"If I remember correctly, there was a TV timeout," Bishop said as he remembered the AFC championship game. "Our offense was on the field waiting to play, and the Cleveland defense also was out there. They were kind of laughing at the situation we were in, thinking they really had the upper hand."
"I remember saying, 'Look at those bleeps. They don't know it, but we have them right where we want them,' " Bishop said. "It just was spontaneous. The electricity and pressure at that moment were unbelievable."
That loosened up the huddle and one player even fell down laughing. And the rest as they say, is history.
Keith signed a 5-year contract worth $3.18 Million in September 1988. Six games into the season, he suffered back spasms and was replaced in the lineup by rookie Doug Widell. Bishop retired before training camp of the next year and now works for the DEA.
MHR gives a hearty Mile High Salute to Keith Bishop as the Greatest Bronco to wear #54.