Denver Broncos Greats... By The Numbers: #84

Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Lloyd had a Pro Bowl season in 2010, but he isn't the Greatest Bronco to wear #84.(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Eighteen players wore #84 for the Denver Broncos in the history of the franchise. Eleven Wide Receivers, three Tight Ends, two Linebackers, a Tackle and a Halfback. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion who takes the prize for this number, just by virtue of his induction to the Hall of Fame. However, I will spend some time telling you of the other players who wore the same jersey. Here is the list:

Brandon Lloyd WR 2009-Present
Javon Walker WR 2006-07
Wesley Duke TE 2005
Shannon Sharpe TE 1992-99, 2002-03
Chris Cole WR 2000-01
Ricky Nattiel WR 1987-91
Clint Sampson WR 1983-86
Vince Kinney WR 1978-79
John Schultz WR 1976-77
Gene Washington WR 1973
Rod Sherman WR 1972
Mike Haffner WR 1968-70
Lou Andrus LB 1967
Jason Franci WR 1966
Jim Thibert LB 1965
Matt Snorton TE 1964
Jack Hill HB 1961
Albert Day T 1960

Let's begin with the incumbent bearer of #84.

Brandon Lloyd was drafted by the 49ers in the 4th round (124th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft. He spent 3 years in San Francisco before a 2-year gig in Washington and another season with Chicago. Brandon joined the Broncos as a Free Agent on June 15, 2009 after the team traded for Kyle Orton. The Bear didn't seem interested in keeping Lloyd and he was one of Orton's favorite targets with the Bears, so it was obvious for Lloyd to reunite with Kyle and sign with Denver. Brandon was Inactive for Games 1-14, but saw time in Denver’s final 2 games in 2009. He started in the final game vs. Kansas City and caught four passes for 95 yards. Lloyd was re-signed by the Broncos last March to a 2-year extension. He will make $1.395 million in 2011.

Brandon owns 7 career games with at least 75 receiving yards, including four 100-yard efforts. Just last year...
  • He led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,448 yards for the 2010 season. For this, he was named 2nd Team All-Pro and was invited to the 2011 Pro Bowl. The 1,448 receiving yards rank 2nd in club history
  • He led the NFL with 18 catches of 25+ yards and finished 2nd with nine catches of 40+ yards
  • Set career single-season highs in every statistical category
  • His 18.8 yards per catch led the league in receiving average (min. 65 rec.) and ranked 4th in NFL history for a season (min. 75 rec.)  
  • Tied for 2nd in the NFL with six 100+ yard games in 2010
  • Tied for 2nd in the league with 3 multi-receiving touchdown games
  • His 11 receiving touchdowns tied for 5th best in franchise history
Lloyd's tally so far as a Bronco comes to 12 starts in 18 games, with 85 catches for 1,565 yards, an 18,4 average, 11 touchdowns, one carry for (-18) yards and no Fumbles. Bronco fans can't wait to see what he has in store for an encore.

Albert Day played his college ball at Eastern Michigan. He signed with the Broncos in 1960 and appeared in all 14 games that season.  

Jack Hill was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the 13th round (151st overall) of the 1956 NFL Draft. There are no records (to speak of) that tell us where he was, but Hill became a Bronco in 1961 and played the entire 14 game schedule. Jack was a Wide Receiver/Kicker for Denver, going 5 for 15 (33.3%) on Field Goal Attempts and hitting all 16 Extra Points. He caught 4 passes for 33 yards and returned one kickoff 23 yards.

Matt Snorton was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 2nd round (20th overall) of the 1964 NFL Draft and the Denver Broncos in the 3rd round (20th overall) of the 1964 AFL Draft. He chose Denver, but unfortunately Snorton's career lasted a mere 5 games.

Jim Thibert was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the 22nd round (176th overall) of the 1962 AFL Draft. He joined the Broncos in 1965 and played in 13 games that year.


Jason Franci went Undrafted out of Cal State-Santa Barbara. He signed with the Broncos in 1966 as a Wide Receiver and played 10 games with one 8-yard catch for the year. 

Lou Andrus was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 11th round (269th overall) of the 1967 NFL Draft. He played 8 games for the Broncos in 1967.

Mike Haffner went Undrafted out of UCLA. He joined the Broncos in 1968 and played 3 seasons in Denver through 1970. Haffner started 16 of 34 games at Wide Receiver, making 59 catches for 991 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also ran the ball 3 times for 3 yards and completed an 18-yard pass for the Broncos.

Rod Sherman was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the 4th round (54th overall) of the 1966 NFL Draft. He spent 1967 with the Raiders and 1968 with the Bengals before rejoining Oakland from 1969-71. Rod became a Bronco in 1972 and started 13 of 14 games that year. He had 38 catches for 661 yards, a 17.4 average and 3 touchdowns. Sherman also had one carry for 2 yards, 10 punt returns for an 8.9 yard average, a Fumble and a Fumble Recovery.

Gene Washington was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1st round (8th overall) of the 1967 NFL Draft. He spent 6 years in Minnesota, going to the Pro Bowl twice and named 1st Team All-Pro once. In 1973 Gene joined the Broncos and played 14 games. He caught 10 passes for 150 yards and 3 touchdowns and retired after the season.

John Schultz was signed by the Broncos as an Undrafted Free Agent out of Maryland in 1976. He spent 3 years with the Broncos, but only wore #84 during his rookie season. Schultz appeared in all 14 games, returning one Punt 2 yards and 3 kickoffs for a 27.3 average. John also caught 2 passes for 29 yards, fumbled once and recovered a Fumble. He switched to #86 the following year.
 

Vince Kinney was drafted by the Broncos in the 10th round (277th overall) of the 1978 NFL Draft. He played Wide Receiver from 1978-79 in Denver. In 23 games, Vince caught one 23-yard pass and returned a kickoff 14 yards.

Wesley Duke was an Undrafted Free Agent out of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. The Broncos signed him in 2005 as a project at Tight End, trying to convert him from a college Basketball player. Wes played 3 games in 2005 and caught 2 passes for 22 yards and one touchdown. He suffered a knee injury on the first day of team's passing camp in 2006, after relinquishing #84 to newly acquired Javon Walker. Duke was waived shortly after that because he had suffered 3 previous major knee surgeries and it was uncertain that he could come back.

Chris Cole was drafted by the Broncos in the 3rd round (70th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft. He played 3 seasons in Denver, his first 2 wearing #84. In 2002, Chris did not play. It's unknown if he had an injury, but there was no Practice Squad that year. In 2003, he had no choice but to wear another number since Shannon Sharpe returned from his tour with the Baltimore Ravens. Cole's best season came in 2001. That year, he played in all 16 of the Broncos' games with one start and contributed 9 catches for 128 yards. He also had 48 kickoff returns that year, tying the all-time single-season Broncos record, and ranking 3rd in the AFC with a 23.5-yd average. After his stint with the Broncos, Chris spent the offseason and preseason with the Oakland Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005, but he couldn't stick with either team. In 2006, Cole signed with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos, but was released. Next, he tried the Arena League's L.A. Avengers. He stayed for 2 seasons and then returned to the CFL, signing with the Toronto Argonauts in 2008. After that, he went back to college to pursue his degree in Sociology.  


Clint Sampson was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 3rd round (60th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft. He spent his entire 4-year career in Denver from 1983-86. Clint started 10 of 59 games, catching 66 passes for 1,014 yards, a 15.4 average and 8 touchdowns. He posted career highs in catches, yards and touchdowns during the 1985 season, snagging 26 passes for 432 yards and 4 scores that year despite not starting a single game. Half of his 10 career starts came in 1986, when he caught 21 passes for 259 yards with no touchdowns. Clint's best individual game effort in the Orange and Blue occurred on December 4, 1983, when he grabbed 3 passes for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 27-6 win over the Cleveland Browns. It was the only 100-yard game in his career. Sampson's final game in Denver came in Super Bowl XXI, when he caught two passes for 20 yards in the Broncos' 39-20 loss to the New York Giants. He also started at Wide Receiver for the Broncos during their wild-card loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Christmas Eve, 1983. Clint led the Broncos' Wide Receivers with 52 yards on 3 receptions in that 31-7 defeat. He died at the age of 44 on December 29, 2005.


Ricky Nattiel was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 1st round (27th overall) of the 1987 NFL Draft. He spent 6 years in a Bronco uniform, the first 5 wearing #84. Ricky switched to #81 in 1992, when Shannon Sharpe was drafted. Nattiel started 17 of 66 games, catching 121 passes for 1,972 yards, a 16.3 average and 8 touchdowns. He ran the ball 7 times for 64 yards and fumbled 9 times. Ricky was the primary return man in 1988 and all told he returned 55 punts for a 7.7 average and 11 kickoffs for an 18.4 average. He even threw an incomplete pass in 1988. Nattiel had an reception average of 20.3 yards in 1987, which was good for 3rd in the League. He played in 8 playoff games and 2 Super Bowls with the Broncos. One of his career highlights was catching a 56-yard touchdown pass from John Elway against the Washington Redskins on the Broncos' first play from scrimmage in Super Bowl XXII. Ricky was also part of "The Three Amigos" along with fellow Broncos wide receivers Vance Johnson and Mark Jackson. 


Javon Walker was drafted by the Packers in the 1st round (20th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. He spent 4 years in Green Bay and went to his only Pro Bowl appearance in 2004. The Packers traded Walker to the Denver Broncos for a 2nd round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft on April 29, 2006. He signed a five-year deal worth more than $40 million, including roster bonuses totaling $15 million in 2007 and 2008. Javon was in the midst of rehab from a torn right ACL, that occurred in the first game of the 2005 season with the Packers. He recovered enough and his 1st season as Bronco paid dividends, with 69 receptions for 1,084 yards and 8 touchdowns. Javon had another score off a 72-yard end-around at Pittsburgh.

The 2007 campaign started out promising, with back-to-back 100-yard performances and a couple of crucial catches on a last-minute, game-winning drive at Buffalo. However, the surgically repaired knee began to give Walker problems. He missed Weeks 4 and 5 and attempted to return to the practice field around the Week 6 Bye, but the pain became too great and he underwent surgery on October 19th. Javon didn't return to the field until Week 12 and was limited for the rest of the season. Following the Broncos' season finale against the San Francisco 49ers, Walker was in a vehicle that was shot at in downtown Denver, killing teammate Darrent Williams. After Williams was shot, he fell into Walker's lap. Javon was pretty distraught over the incident and was never the same again. However, he made a $30,000 donation to the Darrent Williams Teen Center to help finish the charitable project that his teammate began.

With Microfracture surgery on his ailing knee in his near future, the Broncos released Walker when they were unable to trade him in February, 2008. After playing for the Oakland Raiders from 2008–09, Javon was on the Minnesota Vikings offseason roster in 2010. He is currently a Free Agent.

From 2006-07, Javon Walker started 21 of 24 games in Denver, with 95 receptions for 1,371 yards, a 14.4 average, 8 touchdowns and 11 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown. Javon did not Fumble once as a Bronco.

Even with all the data amassed by the preceding seventeen players, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Greatest Bronco to wear #84 is...
Shannon Sharpe

 

Shannon Sharpe was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 7th round (192nd overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft. He played college ball at Savannah State where he played Wide Receiver. When he got to Training Camp, the Bronco coaches saw how big he was and converted him to Tight End. Shannon played 12 seasons for the Broncos (1990-99, 2002-03) with 2 years as a Raven (2000-01) in between. He won 3 Super Bowl Rings and finished his career as the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions (815), receiving yards (10,060) and receiving touchdowns (62) by a Tight End. That is until 2008, when Tony Gonzalez surpassed all 3 records, including his total yardage record. Sharpe holds the distinction of being the 1st Tight End ever to achieve over 10,000 receiving yards.

Sharpe amassed over 1,000 receiving yards in 3 different seasons and once had a streak of 60 consecutive games with a reception. In a 1993 playoff game against the Los Angeles Raiders, he tied a postseason record with 13 receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown. In the Ravens 2000 AFC title game against the Raiders, he caught a short pass on 3rd down and 18 from his own 4-yard line and took it 96 yards for a touchdown, helping the  Ravens to a 16-3 win. 

Shannon was a key member of the Broncos’ back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams from 1997-98. In his 12 seasons with the Broncos, Sharpe made 139 starts in 172 games, caught 675 passes for 8,439 yards, a 12.5 average, 55 touchdowns, had 3 rushing attempts for 9 yards, 7 Fumbles, 3 recoveries and one onside kick recovery.


Distinctions
  • 8-Time Pro Bowl selection (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001)
  • 4-Time 1st-team All-Pro selection (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998)
  • 1-Time 2nd-team All-Pro selection (1995)
  • 3-Time Super Bowl champion (XXXII, XXXIII, XXXV)
  • NFL 1990s All-Decade Team
  • Denver Broncos Ring of Fame (2009)
  • NFL Hall of Fame (2011)
Team Records
  • Tied Most Consecutive Pro Bowl appearances (7)
  • 2nd Career Receptions (675)
  • 2nd Career Receiving yards (8,439)
  • 2nd Career Receiving touchdowns (55)
  • 1st Most Receiving Yards in a Game (214)
  • Tied Most TD's in a game (3) 3-Times
  • 4th Most Total Yards from Scrimmage Career (8,448)
  • 5th Most Combined Yardage Career (8,448)
Sharpe owns more receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, Super Bowl wins and Pro Bowl selections than any of the 7 Tight Ends enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Shannon retired in 2003 to become an NFL broadcaster for CBS.


MHR gives a Mile High Salute to Shannon Sharpe as the Greatest Bronco to wear #84.


Go Broncos!

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