Eleven players have worn #59 for the Denver Broncos in the history of the franchise. Nine Linebackers, a Guard and a Center. At first glance, this looks like a competitive bunch.Here are the candidates for the Greatest Bronco to wear #59...
Glenn Cadrez LB 1995-2000
Brett Wallerstedt LB 1994
Tim Lucas LB 1987-93
Kirk Dodge LB 1987
Darren Comeaux LB 1982-86
Mark Merrill LB 1981-82
Joe Rizzo LB 1974-80
Larry Kaminski C 1966-73
Wesley Woodyard, the current possessor of number 59, went Undrafted in 2008 out of Kentucky, but was later signed by the Broncos. As a rookie, Woodyard played on Special Teams only in Denver’s first 8 games before moving into a starting role due to injuries at the Linebacker position. He also saw time at safety late in the year. Wesley made 10 solo Tackles in his 1st NFL start against the Cleveland Browns in Week 10 of the 2008 season. He had two more 10-Tackle games, including a season-best 13 stops against the New York Jets in Week 13. Woodyard leads the Broncos in Special Teams Tackles with 20 since his rookie year in 2008. He was named a team captain for the Broncos in 2009. Wesley has started 9 of 43 games, recording 107 Tackles, 1 Sack, 3 pass deflections and one Forced Fumble.
Kirk Dodge was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the 7th round (175th overall) of the 1984 NFL Draft. He ended up playing for the Detroit Lions in his Rookie year. The next season, Dodge was on Injured Reserve and missed the entire 1985 campaign. In 1986, he played 9 games for the Houston Oilers and in 1987 he started 1 of 3 games for the Broncos. Kirk stays busy doing charity work with kids and Armed Forces members at the top of the list. He was also an extra along with former Bronco Larry Brunson in the Dennis Quaid movie "Everybody's All-American."
Mark Merrill was drafted by the New York Jets in the 2nd round (31st overall) of the 1978 NFL Draft. He split that season between the Jets and the Chicago Bears. After a season away from the NFL, he would spend the 1981 NFL season with the Denver Broncos before splitting the following year between the Broncos and the Green Bay Packers. He also played with the Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Raiders. Merrill played 17 games in a year and a half with Denver between 1981-82.
Brett Wallerstedt was drafted by the Phoenix Cardinals in the 6th round (143rd overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft. He played his rookie year with the Cardinals and was waived in August of 1994. Brett was a Bronco for all of one month and then the Cincinnati Bengals claimed him off waivers from the Broncos.
Taylor Whitley was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 3rd round (87th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft. He came to Denver in 2005 and played in 2 games for the Broncos.
Tim Lucas was an Undrafted Linebacker out of the University of California, who played for seven seasons with the Broncos. Tim wore #58 in his rookie year, but from 1987-93, he sported #59. Lucas started 8 of 64 games at Right Inside Linebacker, making 3 Sacks and recovering one Fumble.
Darren Comeaux went Undrafted out of Arizona State and signed with the Broncos in 1982. He played 5 seasons in Denver through 1986, appearing in 60 games. He had 2 Sacks, 1 interception, two Fumble Recoveries and had a 9-yard kick return as a Bronco. Darren helped the Broncos win the 1984 AFC West Division and the 1986 AFC Championship, the 49ers win the 1987 NFC West Division and the Seahawks the 1988 AFC West Division.
Donnie Spragan was signed by the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent in 1999, but was released after a knee injury during pre-season. He spent the 1999 and 2000 seasons recovering from injury. Donnie played 10 games with the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe. He was then picked up by the Green Bay Packers in July 2001, but didn't make the last cut. Spragan rode the Cleveland Browns' practice squad for the month of October and was released on Halloween. The Broncos signed him to their practice squad in December 2001 where he stayed the whole year. They re-signed him in 2002 and he was active for the entire season. posting 12 tackles and forced a fumble. In his 3 years with the Broncos, Donnie started 22 of 48 games, with136 Tackles, 1 Sack, 9 pass deflections, 3 Forced Fumbles and 4 Fumbles recovered.
Larry Kaminski went undrafted out of Purdue and was preparing for a business career in 1966 when the Denver Broncos asked to sign him as a Free Agent. He needed to hit the weights and bulked up to a whopping 235 pounds. Larry made the Broncos roster that year and started all 14 games at Center. Kaminski was honorably mentioned for Rookie of the Year at the end of the 1966 season. He was selected to the AFL All-Star Game (think Pro Bowl) in his 2nd year. Larry's career lasted from 1966-1973. He was a member of the first winning season in the franchise history. He also played in the first 2 wins the AFL had over the NFL when the Broncos beat the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings.
Being very active in the Denver community, Larry was nominated for NFL Man of the Year Honors in 1972 and 1973. He was also a game captain several times in his tenure with the team. After a series of injuries, he decided to retire in 1974. In all, Larry started 68 of 96 games in his 8-year career and recovered 3 Fumbles.
Larry was one of the original inductees of the Denver Bronco Alumni Association Board of Directors. He and Jerry Sturm and Gene Mingo were the only players from the original Denver AFL franchise. (see www.remembertheAFL.com) These days, Kaminski is 66 and recently went to the Amen Clinic for a free (to ex-NFLers) brain scan through their research program to challenge the NFL fiction that concussions and football hits have no effect on former players.
Joe Rizzo was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 15th round (369th overall) of the 1973 NFL Draft. He played 7 years (1974-80) with the Broncos as part of the legendary "Orange Crush" Defense. That group was named the 9th best Linebacking corps in NFL history by nfl.com.
"Rizz" started in Super Bowl XII and played along with Randy Gradishar, Tom Jackson and Bob Swenson. He was also voted by Bronco fans as one of the top 10 linebackers in the 50 year history (1959-2009) of the Denver Broncos.
Joe started 60 of 81 games at Left Inside Linebacker, making 9 interceptions, 1 Sack and 3 Fumble Recoveries. He is tied for the Most interceptions in a game by a Linebacker. In Week 5 (October 16th) of the 1977 season, the Broncos defeated the Oakland Raiders 30-7 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Rizzo made 3 interceptions to help win the game. It was also in that game that kicker Jim Turner caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Norris Weese.
Teammate Bob Swenson had this to say:
"Joe Rizzo was the kind of guy you wanted to go into a bar with and if anything happened, you'd want him protecting your backside. That was Rizzo."
Speaking about the Orange Crush Linebackers, Rizzo said:
"Individually, there were better players, but not as a group like us."
"With our defense, there was more strategy involved instead of just lining up and delivering a blow."
"We played an umbrella defense. We kept the ball in front of us if they were throwing. We tried to get deeper than the ball and come up and make tackles."
Joe owns a commercial real estate firm and resides in Wilmington, NC.
Kaminski and Rizzo were really good players in their era's for the Broncos, but in my opinion, the Greatest Bronco to wear #59 is...
Glenn Cadrez was drafted by the New York Jets in the 6th round (154th overall) of the 1992 NFL Draft. He played 4 years in the Big Apple and joined the Broncos in the 2nd Week of the 1995 season. Glenn started in Super Bowl XXXIII and also played in Super Bowl XXXII, earning two Championship Rings. Cadrez played 6 years in Denver, starting 40 of 90 games. He had 202 Tackles, 13 Sacks, 2 interceptions, 4 Forced Fumbles and 6 Fumble Recoveries, one for a touchdown. He also had a 10-yard kick return. Glenn played both the Middle and Right Linebacker positions with the Broncos.
In a post on the Broncos Website commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Broncos' Super Bowl XXXII win, Cadrez was asked:
DO YOU LOOK AT ALL THE GREAT PLAYERS OUT THERE THAT DIDN'T GET TO WIN TWO RINGS LIKE YOU DID?
"Absolutely. There's not a day that goes by that I don't count my blessings looking at a lot of the older guys when I go to golf tournaments and stuff that were great players that gave it up on the field week in and week out that weren't able to get to that pinnacle. That's the nature of the business. A lot of good players aren't going to get that chance, and I definitely realize that, and realize that I'm in a fraternity of only a few that have played this game. I take that, and it humbles me and I'm very appreciative of the opportunities that we had."
After his career ended, Cadrez and Christopher Tuffin, a fellow University of Houston teammate, co-founded the horror film production company BloodWorks. He had a role in their 3rd film "Hood of Horror", where he met his future wife, former Baywatch star and Playboy Playmate of the Year, Brande Roderick. They were engaged in August 2006 and married in 2007.
So he scored two Rings, a film production company and a Playmate. Sounds pretty great to me.
MHR gives a Mile High Salute to Glenn Cadrez as the Greatest Bronco to wear #59.