Denver Broncos Greats... By The Numbers: #68

Fourteen players wore #68 in Denver Broncos history. Nine Offensive Linemen, four Defensive Linemen and one Linebacker. This one is easy, but you will have to wait and see who is the Greatest Bronco to wear #68. Here is the slate of candidates, including the incumbent owner of this jersey. 

Zane Beadles G-T 2010-Present
Steven Harris DT 2007
Mario Fatafehi DT 2003-04
Reggie McElroy T 1995-96
Russell Freeman T 1992-94
Crawford Ker G 1991
Brad Henke DE 1989
Larry Lee C 1987
Rubin Carter DT 1975-86
Larron Jackson G 1971-74
Steve Alexakos G 1970
Sam Brunelli G 1966
Tom Nomina T 1963-65
Bill Roehnelt LB 1961-62

Zane Beadles, the current possessor of #68, was selected by the Denver Broncos in the 2nd round (45th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft. Zane made his career debut in the season opener at Jacksonville as the starter at Right Tackle. He ended up starting 14 of the 16 games last season, mostly at Left Guard.

Bill Roehnelt was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 19th round (219th overall) of the 1958 NFL Draft. He played 2 seasons in Chicago and another in Washington before heading West to Denver. Bill played 18 games at Right Linebacker for the Broncos in 1961-62.

Tom Nomina was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 2nd round (13th overall) of the 1963 AFL Draft and the Los Angeles Rams in the 2nd round (15th overall) of the 1963 NFL Draft. He chose Denver and played 3 seasons at Tackle from 1963-65. Tom played in 37 games in a Bronco uniform. Upon leaving Denver, he played 3 more seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

Sam Brunelli went Undrafted out of Colorado State in 1966. He played 6 total seasons with the Broncos, but only in his rookie year did he wear #68. Sam played in 2 contests in 1966.

Steve Alexakos was drafted by the Boston Patriots in the 9th round (209th overall) of the 1969 NFL Draft. He played one year with the Broncos, starting 1 of 8 games at Guard in 1970. Steve also recovered a Fumble.

Larry Lee was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 5th round (129th overall) of the 1981 NFL Draft. He played 5 seasons with Detroit and 2 seasons in Miami before his stint in Denver. Larry started 5 of 9 games at Center for the Broncos in 1987.

Brad Henke was drafted by the New York Giants in the 4th round (105th overall) of the 1989 NFL Draft. He played on the Defensive Line with the Denver Broncos for one season (1989), playing in the final two regular season games and three post-season games including the Super Bowl loss to San Francisco in 1990.

Crawford Ker was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 3rd round (76th overall) of the 1985 NFL Draft. He played 6 years in Dallas before joining the Broncos in the final year of his career (1991). Crawford started 10 of 12 games at Right Guard.

Steven Harris joined the Denver Broncos as an undrafted college free agent in 2007. He sat on the practice squad for most of the season before being activated in Week 14 against the Chiefs. Harris played in 4 regular season games for the Broncos during 2007. At the end of Training Camp in 2008, the Broncos placed Harris on the Practice Squad. He was released a month later to make room for running back P.J. Pope.

Larron Jackson was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the 4th round (81st overall) of the 1971 NFL Draft. He played 4 seasons (1971-74) with the Broncos, starting 43 of 55 games at Left Guard and recovering 2 Fumbles. Jackson also caught one pass that lost 2-yards on the play.

Reggie McElroy was drafted by the New York Jets in the 2nd round (51st overall) of the 1982 NFL Draft. He spent 7 years in New York, two in Oakland and one season each in Kansas City and Minnesota. Reggie played his last two career seasons in Denver (1995-96), appearing in 23 games.

Mario Fatafehi was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 5th round (133rd overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft. He played in 13 games over two years with the Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers. Mario joined the Broncos for the 2003-04 seasons and played at the Left Defensive Tackle spot. He started 25 of 32 games for Denver and made 60 Tackles, 4 pass deflections, Forced a Fumble and recovered a Fumble. Fatafehi also had a kickoff return for no yards.

Russell Freeman was an Undrafted Free Agent out of Georgia Tech who signed with the Denver Broncos in 1992. He played two seasons in Denver, starting 38 of 43 games at both Tackle positions. Freeman started all 16 games at Left Tackle for the Broncos as a rookie, a feat previously matched by Claudie Minor (1974), Tom Glassic (1976), Mark Cooper (1983) and only Ryan Clady (2008), Zane Beadles (2010) and J.D.Walton (2010) since. Russell allowed 18 Sacks that year, going up against the likes of Derrick Thomas, Bruce Smith and Howie Long. He let Reggie White get back-to-back Sacks on John Elway to help the Packers celebrate Brett Favre's 24 Birthday in 1993.

After a game against the raiders in 1993, he moaned

"Howie Long threw me around like a rag doll" 


And now we come to it. The Greatest Bronco to wear #68 is...

Rubin Carter
                 

Rubin Carter was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 5th round (121st overall) of the 1975 NFL Draft. He played by 12 seasons (1975-86) with the Broncos illustrious "Orange Crush" defense. Called "the Prototype Nose Tackle in the 3-4 Defense" in Sports Illustrated, Rubin stood a mere 6'0", 256 lbs. He played on 5 AFC West championship teams and in 2 Super Bowls (1978, 1987) He missed Super Bowl XXI (1986) because of injuries.

Rubin was a part-time starter as a rookie and then full time in 1976, when the Broncos went to a 3-man front and Defensive Coordinator Joe Collier put him at Nose Tackle. The Broncos had been tinkering with the 3-4 for awhile, but hadn't gone to it on a full time basis. The reason they switched in 1976 was Defensive Tackle Lyle Alzado got injured in the 1st game of the season in Cincinnati. Alzado went on Injured Reserve and Rubin moved to the Nose. Collier had a 6-man rotation on the Line anyway, so things worked out fine. When Lyle returned, he moved to End.

Upon his retirement in 1987, Carter had 1,036 Tackles, 33 Sacks, 13 Fumble recoveries including one returned for a touchdown. At that point in time, he had started more games (152) than any other Nose Tackle in NFL history. He suffered a knee injury in 1986 that required arthroscopic surgery and spent the final 11 weeks of the season on injured reserve. That and his age (34) made it an easy decision for him to retire.

Bronco Head Coach Dan Reeves let him stay on as an Assistant coach for the team and he stayed for 2 years, coaching the Defensive Line. He also had coaching stints with the Washington Redskins (1999-2000) and New York Jets (2001-03), all as Defensive line coach. Rubin has coached Pro Bowl players John Abraham, Shawn Ellis, Marco Coleman, Greg Kragen, Rulon Jones and Karl Mecklenburg.

Carter has also coached in the college ranks. He has been the Defensive Line coach at Temple (2004), Maryland (1997-98) and San Jose State (1995-96). He was also the Defensive Coordinator and Strength and Conditioning coach at Howard University (1989-93). In July 2005, Carter replaced Billy Joe to become the new head coach at Florida A&M University. He was fired in 2007 after having a 16-17 record. In 2009, Carter became the Defensive Line coach for the New Mexico Lobos and he is still there to this day. 

Maybe his best claim to national fame was being on the cover of Sports Illustrated on Oct. 17, 1977. His mug shot on the cover was the lead to a story about the 3-4 defense.

  • 7 Playoff games started 
  • 2 Super Bowl starts
  • 8 Tackles, 2 Sacks and a Fumble Recovery (Super Bowl XII) 
  • 6 Tackles, 1 Sack in 1977 AFC Championship Game
  • NFL's Ed Block Award of Courage (1986)
  • Denver Broncos 50th Anniversary Team (2009)

MHR gives a Mile High Salute to Rubin Carter as the Greatest Bronco to wear #68.

Go Broncos!


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