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Denver Broncos Countdown to Kickoff: 65 Days

Much like the rest of the '60s and early '70s, the Broncos were as exciting to watch as linoleum peeling in the hot summer heat. The Broncos finished 4-10 in 1965. Ok, now that the obligatory Broncos 1965 talk is out of the way, it's time to get to the real #65. Yep, you guessed it, our very own Hall of Fame Left Tackle, Gary Zimmerman.

Gary Zimmerman
Gary Zimmerman

Gary Zimmerman is without a doubt, one of the best offensive linemen to play the game. Him being enshrined into the Hall of Fame is all the proof I need to back up this claim. However, Zimmerman's talent on the field was possibly the second greatest attribute about him as he was also one of the toughest players to ever put on pads. This quote from 'Greek' sums it up better than anything I could ever write, "During warm-ups, his shoulder had slipped out of joint, and I went to Mike (Shanahan) with Gary and I said, 'I don't think he's going to be able to play.' And Zim says, 'As long as No. 7 is on the field, I'll be there. Don't you worry about me. I'll make it.' Zim is probably one of the toughest guys to ever put on a uniform." ~ Steve 'Greek' Antonopulos.

If any further explanations need to be said to show you how dominant and legendary Zimmerman's play was, feast your eyes on this nugget: Zimmerman was voted onto not 1, but 2 All-Decade Teams (80's adn 90's). That is truly "elite." I remember listening to 104.3 The Fan and Alfred Williams was talking about Zimmerman. He said that during pre-game warmups, Zimm would tell him to go up to him and hit him as hard as he could right in the chest/shoulders. Al was confused as to why, so Zimmerman said that it was so that the other team would see that he can take his best shot and not even flinch. Naturally, Zimmerman would grunt when Al did this because it was excruciatingly painful, but Zimmerman refused to allow the other team to see any injuries or any weaknesses in his game.

As tough as Zimmerman was, he was also humble. See, he never wanted the media attention. In fact, he was the Founding Father of the media-blackout policy for the offensive line. He didn't want any publication on his behalf and tended to shy away from attention. Heck, even before his Hall of Fame speech, he would wake up at 4am every day in a stress induced panic because the Hall of Fame is about him, not his team. He didn't want that spotlight. He didn't want that individual attention. He wanted nothing more than to share the spotlight with his teammates instead of only himself. Even after he was enshrined, humility still poured out of him as he reflected upon being selected into the Hall of Fame when he said, "It's pretty shocking to me that the L.A. Express has as many players in the Hall of Fame as the Broncos do. That's pretty ridiculous when you look at it that way. The Broncos have been to six Super Bowls. I don't know what it is. But now that I'm in there, it is an awesome honor to be in there behind John Elway." Thankfully, the Broncos now have twice as many players in the Hall of Fame as the L.A. Express do, but nevertheless, it's still criminal that there are only 4 players inducted and not 10 or 12 or more.

Gary Zimmerman may have only played for the Broncos for 5 of his 12 years, but in my mind, there has never been a better Left Tackle to play for the Denver Broncos, or in the NFL than Gary Zimmerman. We have a young(ish) buck in Ryan Clady who I'm sure wants to cement his place in Broncos lore, and who knows, maybe one day he can unseat Zimm as the best, but those are Grand Canyon sized shoes to fill. Clady was drafted in 2008 (5 years ago), and Zimmerman played for 5 years, so basically, they have the same amount of time in a Broncos uniform. When you look at it through that lens, Clady has a huge mountain to climb to not only be considered our best left tackle, but to be considered a future Hall of Famer. However, there is one undeniable truth that exists, and it is that Gary Zimmerman is one hell of an amazing player, and an even better person! Thank you for your time with us Zimm, you will always be remembered!

Cool 65 Factoids

Lionel Taylor made his 500th catch during the 1965 season.

The Broncos had more "Pro-Bowlers" on offense in 1965 than all other AFL teams had on their entire team.

Lionel Taylor won his fifth receiving title in a row.

Notable Broncos to wear #65:

Gary Zimmerman (1993-1997)
Cooper Carlisle (2000-2006)
Mr. Sunshine on my GD Shoulders John freaking Denvir (1962)*

Current Bronco wearing #65:

Louis Vasquez

Read More: Denver Broncos by the numbers: #65 (Kaptain Kirk)

* Super Trooper Reference