Seventeen Broncos wore the number 52 jersey in franchise history. Twelve Linebackers and five Centers. Now we come to the meat of this series and some healthy discussion. Here are the players that wore the #52 jersey.
James Barton played 28 games at Center for the Broncos in 1961 and 1962.
ADDED 5/27/11: Fred Forsberg was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 14th round (121st overall) of the 1966 AFL Draft. Fred played 5 seasons (1968-73) at all 3 Linebacker positions for the Broncos. He started 40 of 53 games, making 5 interceptions, one for a touchdown and two Fumble Recoveries. Forsberg also had 4 kick returns for an 11.8 average.
Mike Montler was drafted by the Boston Patriots in the 2nd round (32nd overall) of the 1969 NFL Draft. He played 4 seasons for them through their name change before moving on to Buffalo in 1973 and another 4 year stint. Mike became a Bronco in 1977 and started 14 games at Center, including Super Bowl XII. He finished his career in Detroit the following year.
D.J. Williams was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 1st round (17th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft. He started 14 of the 16 games in his rookie year at Right Linebacker, making 114 total Tackles, 2 Sacks, 1 interception, 7 pass deflections and one Forced Fumble. The next season, D.J. switched to #55 and is still going strong. We will revisit him in a future post.
Randy Gradishar was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 1st round (14th overall) of the 1974 NFL Draft. He wore #52 for two seasons before switching to the #53 that we are all familiar with. Randy started 17 of 28 games in those two years recovering one Fumble and making 3 interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. Gradishar also made the Pro Bowl in his 2nd season. Like D.J. Williams, Gradishar will get his due (in the next post).
Jason Hunter was signed by Green Bay as an undrafted free agent in 2006. He played for 3 years with the Packers as a reserve Defensive End. The first 2 seasons, Jason totaled 23 Special Teams Tackles. In the 3rd year, he had 7 Tackles, 2 Sacks and a 54-yard Fumble return for a touchdown. Hunter went to Detroit in 2009 and started 9 of 14 games at Left Defensive End. He responded with 34 Tackles, 5 Sacks, 3 pass deflections and 2 Fumble Recoveries. After one season, Detroit released Jason on August 16, 2010. The Broncos signed him 3 days later and Jason was told that he would be playing Linebacker. Hunter started 12 of 16 games at Left Outside Linebacker. He made 61 total Tackles, 3 Sacks, one interception, 2 pass deflections, 1 Forced Fumble and 2 Recoveries. Jason had a 75-yard Fumble return for a touchdown in Week 10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Jason tied for 2nd on the team with 10 Tackles For a Loss in 2010.
Even though D.J. Williams and Randy Gradishar are great players, neither wore #52 for a significant time. So you won't find there names in the poll. Still, I believe we have a clear-cut winner. The Greatest Bronco to wear #52 is...
MHR gives a Mile High Salute to Ian Gold as the Greatest Bronco to wear #52.