Six Bronco players have worn the #36 jersey in the past. Three Cornerbacks, two Fullbacks and a Safety. The current player who will wear #36 when football begins again, is rookie Brandon Minor. Since he hasn't even donned the number yet, I will not list him. After all, the kid hasn't made it past an NFL Practice Squad. So without further ado, here are the candidates for the Greatest Bronco to wear #36.
Frank Robinson CB 1992-93
Mark Haynes CB 1986-89
Billy Thompson DB 1969-81
Jim Stinnette FB 1961-62
J.W. "Red" Brodnax FB 1960
J.W."Red" Brodnax was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 15th round (175th overall) of the 1959 NFL Draft. The Fullback played 14 games for the Broncos in 1960, with 18 yards on 15 carries and 5 catches for 39 yards and one touchdown. He also returned 5 kickoffs for a 23,4 average. Red was probably best known for being a member of LSU’s 1958 national championship team.
Jim Stinnette was a Fullback and Linebacker who played for the Broncos in 1961 and 1962. He played 24 games, with 95 yards and one touchdown on 39 carries and 24 catches for 167 yards and a touchdown. Jim also returned 3 kickoffs for an 11.0 average. On defense, Stinnette made one interception.
Frank Robinson was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 5th round (137th overall) of the 1992 NFL Draft. He played Cornerback for the Broncos in 1992 and 1993, starting 2 of 31 games. Frank had one interception and one Fumble recovery. Robinson also returned 4 kickoffs for a 22.3 average.
Josh Barrett was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 7th round (220th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. According to Wiki, he was waived by the Broncos on August 30, 2008, and re-signed the next day to their practice squad. On November 23, 2008, Barrett was elevated to the Broncos' active roster where he played in the final six games of the season and started the last three. Overall, Josh played in 20 games in a Bronco uniform. He finished with 32 tackles, one interception and 4 pass break ups. Josh was waived/injured by the Broncos on August 5, 2010 with a shoulder injury. He could have reverted to the Broncos' Injured Reserve list, but then head coach Josh McDaniels decided to risk Barrett on the waiver wire.
That gamble failed, as McDaniels former boss Bill Belichick claimed Barrett for the Patriots on the following day. New England held on to him until August 31 when he was placed on Injured Reserve. That was the first day a team could do that without exposing him to waivers.
Mark Haynes was drafted by the Giants in the 1st round (8th overall) of the 1980 NFL Draft. He played in New York for six years, making the Pro Bowl 3 times. After the Pro Bowl years, Haynes held out in Training Camp, forcing the Giants to trade him.
He came to Denver in 1986, in exchange for two 2nd's and a 6th-round pick. Head Coach Dan Reeves promptly inserted him at Right Cornerback. The problem was, Mark was a Left Corner. No way was he going to displace All-Pro Louis Wright though. Haynes, an All-America left corner in 1979 for CU, couldn't make the adjustment.
That first year, 1986, he sat out half the season on injured reserve with a muscle pull in his right thigh. Haynes might have been shipped off if Louis Wright hadn't unexpectedly retired at the end of 1986. Haynes played 4 seasons with the Broncos, starting 27 of 52 games. He compiled one Sack, 4 interceptions, one for a touchdown and one Fumble Recovery. Mark also returned 2 kickoffs for 40 yards.
Haynes has a pretty strong case for this accolade, and in a different circumstance he would likely be the recipient, but the Greatest Bronco to wear #36 is an easy choice:
Billy Thompson is regarded by many as one of the best defensive backs in Denver Broncos history. The Broncos drafted him in the 3rd-round (61st overall) in 1969. As a rookie, he became the 1st player in pro football history to lead his league (AFL) in both kickoff (28.5 avg.) and punt return (11.5 avg.) average in the same season.
Thompson was the first player in team history to play 13 seasons with Denver (1969-81), a total that ties him for 6th in franchise history. A team captain for many years, he finished his career with more starts (178) and games played (179) than any player in Broncos annals. Billy currently ranks 3rd and 10th, respectively in those categories. He also had the longest consecutive start and games played streaks (156 games) in team history at the time of his retirement. He was a part of Bronco teams that reached the playoffs 3 times (1977-79), winning 2 division titles (1977-78) and appearing in Super Bowl XII in 1977.
Thompson was a college scout for the Broncos for 2 years before moving into the position of Director of Player Relations and Community Outreach. He is now the club's Director of Community Outreach and Alumni Relations, and in that role coordinates the activities of the Broncos' former players, who remain a vital part of the organization. Billy works with the Denver Broncos Alumni Council and former Broncos players to integrate their involvement in the club's community outreach programs, which focus on youth, health and hunger initiatives.
- 3-Time Pro Bowl selection (1977-78, ‘81)
- 4 Fumble Recovery Touchdowns (2nd)
- 61 Takeaways (40 Interceptions/21 Fumbles Recovered) 1st
- 40 Career Interceptions (3rd)
- 7 Career Defensive touchdowns (3 INT/4 FR)
- 3 Career Interception touchdowns
- 784 Career interception return yardage (1st)
- 19.6-yard average (2nd)
- 1,814 Punt Return yards (2nd)
- 11.6 Punt Return average (7th)
- 25.1 Kickoff Return average (3rd)
- Inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame in 1987
For his part in Denver Broncos history, MHR gives a Mile High Salute to Billy Thompson as the Greatest Bronco to wear the #36 jersey.