Fifteen men wore #77 for the Denver Broncos in franchise history. When this number is evoked some folks will think of a certain player and some will think of another. The fact is, two very dominant players had very good careers for the Broncos wearing this number and a third was very successful as well. But before we get to them, let's take a look at the other twelve players. The list of candidates is comprised of five Offensive Linemen, four Defensive Ends, four Defensive Tackles, a Tight End and a Linebacker.
Larry Birdine spent weeks 10 through 17 of the 2007 season with the Broncos, though he remained inactive for those 8 games. He made it through Training Camp and was waived by the Broncos during the final cuts in August 2008.
Tony Jones was signed as an Undrafted Free Agent by the Cleveland Browns in 1988. He stayed with the Browns for 8 years, playing both Tackle spots. Tony was a member of the inaugural roster for the Baltimore Ravens in 1996. Before the 1997 season, the Broncos signed Tony to bolster their offensive line. He started all 16 games at Right Tackle and was the 2nd option on Left side. Jones made his only Pro Bowl appearance that year. In 1998, Tony moved to Left Tackle to protect John Elway’s blind side. He was also a part the the Offensive Line that opened holes for Terrell Davis' 2,000 yard season. Jones started all 60 games in his 4 years with the Broncos (1997-2000). Better known as "T-Bone" by his teammates, Tony started and won 2 Rings in Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII with the Broncos.
"I started taking anabolic steroids in 1969 and never stopped. It was addicting, mentally addicting. Now I'm sick, and I'm scared. 90% of the athletes I know are on the stuff. We're not born to be 300 lbs. or jump 30 feet. But all the time I was taking steroids, I knew they were making me play better. I became very violent on the field and off it. I did things only crazy people do. Once a guy sideswiped my car and I beat the hell out of him. Now look at me. My hair's gone, I wobble when I walk and have to hold on to someone for support, and I have trouble remembering things. My last wish? That no one else ever dies this way."
- 1972 - Led the NFL in Fumbles Recovered (5)
- 2-Time Pro Bowler (1977, 1978)
- 1st-Team All-Pro (1977)
- Byron "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year Award (1977)
Now I'm going to let you decide the winner, but my vote for the Greatest Bronco to wear #77 is...
Karl Mecklenburg was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 12th round (310th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft and the Chicago Blitz in the 21st round of the USFL Draft in 1983. Karl opted for Denver and it was a wise choice. He played his entire 12 season career in a Bronco uniform. The "Snow Goose" or "Albino Rhino" was an essential component of the Broncos' Super Bowl teams of the 1980s, playing above and beyond his draft selection. He helped Denver to 7 postseason appearances (1983-84, ‘86-87, ‘89, ‘91, ‘93), 5 division titles (1984, ‘86-87, ‘89, ‘91) and 3 Super Bowl berths (XXI in 1986, XXII in ‘87, XXIV in ‘89). Karl started 141 of 180 total games in Denver. He is listed as Defensive End, Left Inside Linebacker and Middle Linebacker, but the fact is, Mecklenburg played all 7 defensive front positions, sometimes all 7 in one game. He played standing up and with his hand in the dirt, wherever a mismatch could be found. Karl harassed many NFL quarterbacks as witnessed by his 79 career Sacks. His season high 13 Sacks were a franchise record at the time. He recorded 11 multiple-sack games and is the only player in team annals to record 4 Sacks in a game twice in his career. Karl registered 1,118 Tackles, including a career and team-high 143 stops in 1989. He also made 5 interceptions, Forced 16 Fumbles, Recovered 14 Fumbles (returning 2 for touchdowns) and recorded one Safety in his time as a Bronco.
- 6-Time Pro Bowler (1985-87, 1989, 1991, 1993)
- 4-Time Newspaper Enterprise Assn. (NEA) 1st-team All-Pro (1985, 1986, 1987, 1989)
- 3-Time 1st-Team All-Pro (1985, 1986, 1989)
- 1-Time 2nd-Team All-Pro (1987)
- 5 consecutive 100+ Tackle seasons (6 total)
- 8 seasons with 7 or more Quarterback Sacks
- Broncos Ring of Fame (2001)
Like I said, you get to choose this one folks. You've seen the evidence presented. I submit three choices for you to select from. I've made mine, so what do you say MHR?