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Denver Broncos Greats... By The Numbers: #26

Twenty-two Bronco players have worn the #26 jersey in the history of the franchise. Seven Running Backs, six Cornerbacks, five Defensive Backs, two Safeties, one Fullback and one Wide Receiver. Here is the list of candidates for the Greatest Bronco to wear #26:

Laurence Maroney RB 2010
Ty Law CB 2009
Jack Williams CB 2008-09
Paul Smith RB 2007
Tatum Bell RB 2004-06
Clinton Portis RB 2002-03
Eric Brown S 1998-2001
Tim McKyer CB 1997
Eric Thomas CB 1995
Ben Smith CB 1994
Chris Hale DB 1993
Bobby Humphrey RB 1989-91
Lyle Pickens DB 1987
Chris Brewer RB 1984
J.T. Thomas DB 1982
Larry Riley DB 1977
Calvin Jones CB 1973-76
George Saimes S 1970-72
Darrell Lester FB 1965-66
Tommy Janik DB 1963-64
Frank Quayle RB 1969
Don Coffey E 1963

The Receiver and the Fullback

Don Coffey played in 3 games for the Broncos in 1963, compiling no stats.

Darrell Lester was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 9th round (118th overall) of the 1964 NFL Draft. He played 23 games at Fullback during 1965-66 for the Broncos. He had 84 yards on 34 attempts and 2 catches for 26 yards and a touchdown. Lester also returned one punt and one kickoff.

The Safeties

George Saimes didn't do much in a Bronco uniform, but his story is interesting. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 6th round (48th overall) of the 1963 AFL Draft and the Los Angeles Rams in the 6th round (71st overall) of the 1963 NFL Draft. But instead, George played for the Buffalo Bills for 7 years. He helped the Bills win AFL Championships in 1964 and 1965. From 1964-68, Saimes went to the AFL All-star Game and made the All-AFL Team in 1964, 1965 and 1967. He is a member of the AFL All-Time Team and was once considered "the finest open-field tackler in the league." George played with the Broncos for the last 3 years of his career. He started all 13 games at Free Safety in 1971 and recorded one fumble recovery.

Eric Brown was drafted by the Broncos in the 2nd round (61st overall) of the 1998 NFL Draft. He spent 4 years in Denver, starting 52 of 53 games. Eric made 273 Tackle, 5.5 Sacks, 6 interceptions, 2 Forced Fumbles and 6 Fumble Recoveries. Brown earned a Super Bowl ring with the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII. Following the 2001 season, Eric played the last 3 years of his career in Houston.

The Defensive Backs

Tommy Janik was drafted by the Broncos in the 3rd round (21st overall) of the 1963 AFL Draft. He played Safety and Punter in 23 games on the AFL Broncos 1963-64 teams. Defensively, Tommy made 3 interceptions and ran a 22-yarder back for a touchdown off of Len Dawson in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs during week 8 of the 1964 season. Janik punted 10 times with a 37.4 average and a long of 49 yards, also in 1964. After he left Denver, Tommy became a 2-time AFL All-Star (1965, 1967) with Buffalo and he was also a part of the Bills AFL Championship in 1965.

Larry Riley backed up Cornerbacks Louis Wright and Steve Foley for the Broncos 1977 super Bowl run. He played in 5 games and didn't record a stat. He played in 4 games for the Green Bay Packers in 1978 to finish his career.

J.T. Thomas was drafted by the Steelers in the 1st round (24th overall) of the 1973 NFL Draft. He played 8 years for Pittsburgh before joining the Broncos for his last season in 1982. Thomas appeared in 9 games for the Broncos, recording one interception.

Lyle Pickens was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 9th round (231st overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft. He appeared in one game as a Bronco in 1987.

Chris Hale allegedly played Defensive Back in 1993 for the Broncos, but he didn't appear in a game.

The Cornerbacks

Calvin Jones was drafted by Denver in the 15th round (373rd overall) of the 1973 NFL Draft. He was the starting Right Cornerback for his 4 year term with the Broncos. Jones started all but 2 of his 46 games as a Bronco, making 12 interceptions and 2 Fumble Recoveries, returning one 43 yards for a touchdown during a 44-13 win against the Cleveland Browns in the 3rd Week of the 1976 season. He now goes by Reverend Calvin Jones, Jr. and has been a senior pastor of Providence Baptist Church of San Francisco since 1991.

Ben Smith was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1st round (22nd overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft. He played 3 years for the Eagles before coming to Denver. Ben started 14 games at Left Cornerback for the Broncos in 1994. During that time, Smith made 72 Tackles and one interception. He played 2 more seasons in his career, finishing with the Arizona Cardinals.

Eric Thomas was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2nd round (49th overall) of the 1987 NFL Draft. He played cornerback for nine seasons, six with the Cincinnati Bengals and two with the New York Jets before joining the Broncos in 1995. Eric made 20 stops in 14 games as a backup Cornerback in Denver. He had one Pro Bowl appearance in 1988 as a Bengal.

Tim McKyer was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 3rd round (64th overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft. McKyer played in 12 NFL seasons for 7 different teams from 1986 to 1997, including the 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons before playing his last season for the Broncos in 1997. Tim played in all 16 games that year, starting one. He made 16 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 interception and Forced 1 Fumble. McKyer has 3 Super Bowl Rings, two with the 49ers in 1988 and 1989 and one as a Bronco.

Jack Williams was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 4th round (119th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. He saw time in 14 games during his rookie year, recording 7 tackles on defense. Williams finished the season tied for 6th on the team with 5 Special Teams stops (all on kickoff coverage). In 2009, Jack played in the first 7 games in Denver, making 12 Tackles, 3 Pass Defenses and one Fumble Recovery. Released by the Broncos November 7, 2009, Williams was claimed off Waivers 3 days later by the Detroit Lions. He played in one game for the Lions but a knee injury put him on the Reserve/Injured list for the rest of the season.

Ty Law was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 1st round (23rd overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft. He played 10 years in New England before playing for the New York Jets twice, with 2 seasons in Kansas City in between. Law signed with the Broncos on November 7, 2009, joining the oldest Defensive backfield in the league. Ty's final game with the Broncos came on January 3, 2010. He finished the season with 10 tackles, and 1 interception run back for 37 yards and was released on February 25, 2010. A 5-time Pro Bowler & 2-time First-Team All-Pro, Ty Law had 53 career interceptions, good for 23rd All-time, and 7 career pick-sixes which is 8th All-Time. He also won 3 Super Bowls with the Patriots.

The Running Backs

Frank Quayle was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 5th round (113th overall) of the 1969 NFL Draft. He played one season (1969) for the Broncos, appearing in 11 games and starting two. Quayle produced 183 yards on 57 carries for a 3.2 average. He also caught 11 balls for 167 yards including a 71-yarder, the longest in the NFL that year.

Chris Brewer was a 9th round (245th overall) draft pick for the Denver Broncos in the 1984 NFL Draft. He appeared in 13 games in Denver in 1984, rushing for 28 yards on 10 carries and catching 2 passes for 20 yards. He Fumbled once and recovered 1 Fumble. Ironically, Chris played 3 games for the Chicago Bears and had better success, accounting for 3 touchdowns.

Bobby Humphrey was selected in the first round (3rd overall) of the NFL's supplemental draft in 1989 by the Denver Broncos. He played 35 games from 1989-91 and started 26. As a rookie, he rushed for 1,151 yards and 7 touchdowns for the Broncos as they won the AFC Championship, but lost to the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV. He followed up his rookie performance with a Pro Bowl selection in 1990, rushing for 1,202 yards and 7 touchdowns in 1990. However, those two 1,000 yard seasons caused Bobby's head to swell and he decided to hold out of training camp in hopes of obtaining a new contract. The Broncos didn't budge and the holdout continued late into the season. Humphrey finally ended his holdout in week 14. he found that his starting spot had been snagged by the newly signed Gaston Green and Gaston was working on his own 1000-yard season. When Humphrey finally got into a game, the Broncos Offensive linemen "forgot" to block for him on his first carry. The fact is, the whole organization had Bobby in their Dog house. The next offseason he was traded to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for Sammie Smith. After his NFL career, Bobby was the head coach of the Birmingham Steeldogs of the Arena Football League 2 from 2000-2005. Humphrey now works as a salesman for Ready Mix USA, a Cement mixing Co. in Birmingham, Alabama.

Tatum Bell was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 2nd round (41st overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft. He led all AFC rookie running backs in rushing yards as a rookie. In 2005 he was the 2nd half of a tandem rushing attack with Mike Anderson and rushed for 921 yards, a 5.3 average and 8 touchdowns. In 2006, Tatum rushed for 1025 yards and 2 touchdowns. That offseason, Bell, George Foster and a draft pick were packaged in a deal with the Detroit Lions for Cornerback Dré Bly. He had trouble adjusting in Detroit and after his termination that September, Tatum was accused of stealing another player's luggage.

In November 11, 2008, Tatum was signed out of the Aurora Mall where he was selling Cel Phones from a kiosk. The Broncos Running Back corps were decimated that year and Bell offered the best Band-Aid as a player who was familiar with the Broncos system. Donning the #21 jersey, he gained 249 yards and an impressive 5.6 yard average with 2 touchdowns in the 2008 season. He was not re-signed following the season.

Paul Smith was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 5th round (132nd overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft and is not to be confused with Defensive End Paul Smith who also played for the Broncos from 1968-1980. This Paul Smith appeared in 14 games during the 2007 season and did not register any stats.

Laurence Maroney was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 1st round (21st overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft. Laurence played 4 years in New England rushing for 2,430 yards and 21 touchdowns and adding 1,062 yards in kick returns. He was traded to the Broncos on September 14, 2010 in one of the worst transactions in Broncos history. The Patriots got a 2011 4th-round pick in return and the Broncos got a 2011 6th-round pick from the Patriots. Maroney gained 74 yards on 36 carries (a 2.1 avg,) starting 3 of 4 games. On March 3, 2011 Maroney was not-resigned by the Broncos. So rounding it all up, the Broncos lost a 4th round draft pick this year for a player that isn't on the roster anymore.

Now a case could be made for Eric Brown since he played for the Broncos for 4 years and won a Super Bowl Ring. Likewise, Tim McKyer won a Ring, but he was a mercenary who played for a handful of teams and actually had better years outside of the Mile High City. Bobby Humphrey had a few good years in Denver and could have been the greatest Bronco to wear #26, had he not turned selfish. No, the way I see it and it will surely be arguable, is that the

Greatest Bronco player to wear #26 is...

Clinton Portis RB 2002-03

Clinton Portis was taken by the Denver Broncos in the 2nd round (51st overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. He ran for 1,500 yards in each of his two seasons with the Broncos, was the NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and made the Pro Bowl in 2003. In the 2 years with Denver, Clinton posted a total of 3,099 yards on 563 carries, a 5.5 average with 29 touchdowns, 8 Fumbles and 3 Fumbles Recovered. Portis also caught 71 passes for 678 yards and 2 touchdowns. December was a good month for C.P. On December 12, 2002, he became the youngest player (21 years, 105 days) to score 4 touchdowns in a game. The next year on December 7th, he became the youngest player (22 years, 97 days) to score 5 touchdowns in a game. Before the 2004 season, the Broncos traded Portis to the Redskins for Champ Bailey and a 2nd-round draft pick in the 2004 NFL Draft which ended up being Tatum Bell.

MHR gives a Mile High Salute to Clinton Portis as the Greatest Bronco to wear #26.

Go Broncos!