The number 80 has a rich history with the Broncos. Worn by thirteen players across forty-two years (though it should be noted that just three players accounted for twenty-nine of those years), #80 has appeared in thirty post-season games: 6 Wildcards, 10 Divisonals, 8 AFC Championship games and 6 Super Bowls.
Let's take a jump and meet the men of #80
Tom Rychlec TE 1963
Drafted by the Lions in the 10th round (119th overall) of the 1957 NFL Draft. He played for the Lions and the Bills before coming to Denver. He appeared in 3 games with no starts for the Broncos. He caught 1 pass for 7 yards.
Ron Nery DE 1963
Drafted by the Giants in the 7th round (81st overall) of the 1956 NFL Draft. There is no record of him ever playing for the Giants. He played for the Chargers before coming to Denver. He appeared in 4 games with no starts. He had no officially recorded statistics.
Ed Cooke DE/LB 1964-65
Drafted by the Bears in the 3rd round (29th overall) of the 1958 NFL Draft. He played for the Bears, the Eagles, the Colts and the Titans/Jets before coming to Denver. He appeared in 28 games with 0 starts. He intercepted 3 passes and returned them for 36 yards. He returned 1 fumble for a touchdown.
Dan LaRose DE 1966
Drafted by both the Patriots (3rd round, 18th overall in the 1961 AFL Draft) and the Lions (2nd round, 23rd overall in the 1961 NFL Draft). He opted for the Lions. He also played for the Steelers and the 49ers before coming to Denver. He appeared in 11 games with 0 starts. He recovered 1 fumble.
Jimmy Jones WR 1968
Drafted by both the Bears (6th round, 84th overall in the 1964 NFL Draft) and the Broncos (25th round, 193rd overall) in the 1964 AFL Draft. He spent three seasons in Chicago before coming to Denver. He appeared in 13 games with 0 starts. He caught 13 passes for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns. He had 1 rushing attempt for -1 yards.
Tom Buckman TE 1969
Drafted by the Packers in the 12 round (298th overall) in the 1969 NFL Draft. There is no record of him ever playing for the Packers. He appeared in 7 games with 1 start. He caught 4 passes for 48 yards and 1 touchdown.
Jerry Simmons WR 1971-74
Undrafted player. He played for the Steelers, Falcons, Saints and Bears before coming to Denver. He appeared in 51 games with 35 starts. He caught 65 passes for 1048 yards and 6 touchdowns. He had 2 rushing attempts for 3 yards.
Rick Upchurch WR 1975-83
Drafted by the Broncos in the 4th round (95th overall) of the 1975 NFL Draft. He appeared in 119 games with 69 starts. He caught 267 passes for 4369 yards with 24 touchdowns. He had 49 rushing attempts for 349 yards with 3 touchdowns. He returned 248 punts for 3008 yards with 8 touchdowns. He returned 95 kicks for 2355 yards. He fumbled 27 times and recovered 9 fumbles. He attempted 3 passes but did not complete any of them. He was sacked on two other attempts to pass. He appeared in 4 Pro Bowls (1976, 1978, 1979, 1982). He was named to the 1st Team All-Pro 3 times (1976, 1978, 1982). He appeared in 6 post-season games (2 Wildcard, 2 Divisional, 1 AFC Championship, Super Bowl XII). In Super Bowl XII, he recorded 94 kickoff return yards, 22 punt return yards and 9 receiving yards. He set a Super Bowl record with a 67-yard kickoff return in the 3rd quarter. That return set up Denver's only touchdown in the game. After football, he coached at the college and high school levels. As an interesting side note, he briefly dated and was engaged to Condoleezza Rice.
Ray Alexander WR 1984
Undrafted player. He appeared in 8 games with 0 starts. He caught 8 passes for 132 yards with 1 touchdown.
Shane Swanson WR 1987
Drafted by the Browns in the 12th round (315th overall) of the 1985 NFL Draft. There is no record of him ever playing for Cleveland. He appeared in 3 games with 2 starts. He caught 6 passes for 87 yards with a touchdown. He returned 9 punts for 132 yards and 9 kicks for 234 yards. It is interesting that both Swanson and Mark Jackson are listed as wearing #80 in 1987. Jackson missed Weeks 3-5 while Swanson only played in Weeks 3-5.
Mark Jackson WR 1986-92
Drafted by the Broncos in the 6th round (161st overall) of the 1986 NFL Draft. He appeared in 100 games with 68 starts. He caught 276 passes for 4746 yards with 24 touchdowns. He rushed 18 times for 69 yards with 1 touchdown. He returned 2 punts for 7 yards and 2 kicks for 34 yards. He appeared in 11 post-season games (4 Divisional, 4 AFC Championships, 3 Super Bowls). He was part of the "Three Amigos" receiving corp (along with Vance Johnson and Ricky Nattiel). It was Jackson who caught the game-tying touchdown pass from John Elway on "The Drive" in the 1987 AFC Championship game against the Browns. In his three Super Bowl appearances (XXI, XXII, XXIV), he had 7 catches for 127 yards. His 4-catch, 76 yard performance in Super Bowl XXII led the Broncos receivers and was 2nd in receiving yardage for the game.
Tony Kimbrough WR 1993-94
Drafted by the Broncos in the 7th round (182nd overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft. He appeared in 27 games with 0 starts. He caught 10 passes for 99 yards.
Rod Smith WR 1995-2007
Undrafted player. He was signed by the Patriots but released prior to being signed by the Broncos. He appeared in 183 games with 158 starts. He caught 849 passes for 11389 yards with 68 touchdowns. He rushed 44 times for 348 yards with 1 touchdown. He returned 53 punts for 647 yards with 1 touchdown and 6 kicks for 93 yards. He was 2 of 5 in passing for 86 yards. He was selected to the Pro Bowl 3 times (2000, 2001, 2005). He was the only undrafted player to ever surpass 10,000 receiving yards. He is currently ranked 15h in NFL History in career receptions and 16th in receiving yards. His first NFL catch was a 43-yard, game winning touchdown pass from John Elway against the Washington Redskins. He had 8 1000+ receiving yard seasons. He had 2 100+ receptions seasons. He played in 13 post-season games (4 Wildcard, 4 Divisional, 3 AFC Championship, 2 Super Bowl), including the Broncos back-to-back Super Bowl victories in Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII. In Super Bowl XXXII, he set the record for the 4th highest receiving total (5 catches for 152 yards with 1 touchdown -- an 80-yard pass from Elway). He has the most catches, receiving yards and touchdown receptions of any undrafted wide receiver in NFL history. Only the 6th player to have 100+ receptions against three different teams (Kansas City, San Diego, Oakland). He had a complete hip replacement surgery in 2006, and learned at the end of the 2007 season that he would require a second surgery. Smith retired in July of 2008, ending a 14-year, controversy-free career which is often held up as an example of professionalism and a positive work ethic.
While cases could be made for Rick Upchurch and Mark Jackson, is there really any need to vote?