In the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, only four Denver Broncos have been granted a coveted place among their distinguished NFL peers, despite the team being one of the NFL's most successful in league history.
But the Mile High Report Hall of Fame is already inducting four in its inaugural Class of 2014.
Those four Denver Broncos being enshrined to the Mile High Report Hall Of Fame are no strangers to Broncos fans, but where two have found a place in Canton, two others have repeatedly been denied their proper home.
But not here. Not by the fans who matter.
This Hall of Fame - by Broncos fans, for Broncos fans - understands true greatness.
The four inaugural inductees to the MHR Hall of Fame are running back Floyd Little, linebacker Randy Gradishar, quarterback John Elway and running back Terrell Davis.
This category began with 15 total Denver Broncos greats picked by the Mile High Report community, which was narrowed down to seven players after a community vote, including Shannon Sharpe, Steve Atwater and Rod Smith in addition to the four selected via an MHR staff member vote.
Because we all love to relive greatness, let's take a look at the careers of these four amazing Denver Broncos.
Floyd Little (1967-1975)
Floyd Little was selected in the first round in the 1967 NFL Draft, the sixth pick overall. During his rookie year, the three-time All-America running back from Syracuse led the NFL in punt returns with a 16.9-yard average. He went on to lead the NFL in combined yards in 1967 and 1968. Little played nine seasons for the Denver Broncos.
Playing in a bygone era of the NFL, No. 44 was much of the reason this franchise turned successful in the mid-70s. During his nine-year career with the Denver Broncos, Little totaled 6,323 yards rushing, 43 touchdowns and a career rushing average of 3.9 yards per carry. He added 215 career receptions for 2,418 yards and nine touchdowns.
Little was also a force in the return game. He totaled 893 career punt return yards, two career punt return touchdowns, and a punt return average of 11 yards. He also had 2,523 career kick return yards. In his Broncos career, Little amassed a total 12,157 all-purpose yards for the Broncos.
Nomination for Little:
"Little was the first truly great player the Denver Broncos had on their roster, and he has meant more to this team than anyone outside of John Elway."- Kyle Montgomery
- Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010
- 2x AFL All-Star
- 3x AFC-NFC Pro Bowl
- Member of the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame
Randy Gradishar (1974-1983):
Another first-round draft pick, Randy Gradishar was the 14th pick overall in the 1974 NFL Draft. Playing alongside Tom Jackson, Gradishar was a force in creating the "Orange Crush" defense, which led the Broncos to their first Super Bowl appearance in the 1977-78 season.
During Gradishar's tenure with the Broncos, the "Orange Crush" allowed the third-fewest rushing yards in the NFL, behind only the Steelers "Steel Curtain" and the Cowboys' "Doomsday" defenses.
Gradishar played 10 seasons for the Denver Broncos and is considered one of the best defensive players in the team's history. In that time, he had 20 interceptions, three of which became touchdowns, as well as 13 fumble recoveries, one leading to a TD.
"For those lucky enough to see Randy Gradishar in his prime, you saw the epitome of an NFL player. He was better than his peers, including Jack Lambert, and often was recognized for this during his career. Awards include: DPOY-1978, 7-time Pro-Bowler and a slew of All Pro Teams." - Gradishar53
- Pro Football Hall Of Fame finalist 2003, 2008
- Selected to seven Pro Bowls
- Five-time First-Team All-Pro selection
- Seven-time All-AFC selection
- 1978 NFL Defensive Player Of The Year
- Member of the Denver Broncos Ring Of Fame
- Inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall Of Fame
John Elway (1983-1998):
John Elway was drafted No.1 overall by the Baltimore Colts in 1983. After refusing to play for the Colts and threatening to switch to baseball, Elway was later traded to the Denver Broncos for offensive lineman Chris Hinton, backup quarterback Mark Herrmann, and a first-round pick in the 1984 draft. Elway played 16 years for the Denver Broncos and is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
In his 16-year tenure leading the Broncos, Elway totaled 51,475 total yards passing, 300 total touchdowns and a career completion percentage of 57 percent. He also rushed for a total of 3,407 yards and racked up 33 rushing touchdowns in his career.
The nine-time Pro Bowler played in a total of 21 postseason games and put up some impressive numbers during those playoff appearances - totaling 4,964 total yards passing, 27 touchdowns and a career completion percentage of 54.5 percent.
Among Broncos fans and AFC foes alike, Elway is perhaps best known for his comeback wins and game-winning drives, something he did 35 and 46 times respectively, including some of the most iconic games in NFL history.
Known simply as The Drive, Elway brought the Broncos back from a 20-13 deficit in the 1986-87 AFC Championship Game, marching 98 yards in 5:43 minutes and capping it off with a five-yard touchdown pass to Mark Jackson to tie. In overtime, the Cleveland Browns won the toss but Denver's defense held them to a quick three-and-out, leading to a Broncos' 60-yard drive and a 33-yard Rick Karlis field goal to solidify Denver's second AFC championship win in history at the time.
The following year in a deja vu for Browns fans, The Fumble represented yet another miraculous win for Elway and his Broncos. Having just led a 75-yard drive to put the Broncos ahead 38-31 in a shoot-out, Bernie Kosar led his Browns to the Broncos 8-yard line with 1:12 remaining. Thanks to a Jeremiah Castille strip on the ball, running back Ernest Byner fumbled and Broncos recovered. After taking an intentional safety, Broncos ended the game 38-33, winning back-to-back AFCG for the first time since the Pittsburgh Steelers a decade earlier.
While Elway's The Drive II is also one for the record books - and perhaps one of the most exciting of his comeback wins thanks to a huge play by Vance Johnson and a winning field goal with 20 seconds left in the game - it will always be Super Bowl XXXII and the Broncos' win over the Green Bay Packers that football fans of every team will recall when hearing the name John Elway.
Thanks in part to owner Pat Bowlen's famous quote, "This one's for John," Elway's first Super Bowl win will be special to every Broncos fan - even if he/she weren't alive to witness the game - and never forgotten either.
From the Packers' opening touchdown to Elway's "Helicopter" third-down conversion all the way to Brett Favre's fourth-down pass to Mark Chmura that was knocked down by John Mobley, that win will stand as the greatest in Broncos history for a long, long time. Possibly forever. And as Super Bowls go, it was one of the best for any football fan - but especially if you cheer for the Orange and Blue.
Nomination for John Elway:
This nomination needs no further explanation. - Kyle Montgomery
- Inducted to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame 2004
- 2x Super Bowl Champion (XXXII, XXXIII)
- Super Bowl MVP (XXXIII)
- Five Super Bowl appearances
- Five-time AFC Champion
- Selected to the Pro Bowl 9 times
- Voted NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1987
- Two-time AFC Offensive Player Of The Year (1987, 1993)
- Walter Payton Man Of The Year (1992)
- NFL's 1990s All-Decade team
- Inducted to the Denver Broncos Ring Of Fame
- Elway's No. 7 is retired by the Denver Broncos
- Inducted to the Colorado Sports Hall Of Fame
- Denver Broncos all-time career leader (Career wins, Pass attempts, Pass Completions, Passing yards, Rushing yards by QB, Passing Touchdowns, Interceptions)
Terrell Davis (1995-2001):
One of the most talked about facts of running back Terrell Davis' short-lived career - other than that he deserves the Pro Football Hall of Fame - is the fact that such a powerhouse came to the Broncos via the sixth round of the 1995 NFL Draft - a round generally reserved for players with only an outside hope of making the final roster.
Davis entered the Broncos Training Camp that season as the sixth-string running back and was considered a long shot to make the team. Davis quickly won over his coaches during practices and in the preseason. One play that stood out was a crushing tackle during a special teams play. (*if you've never seen this hit, it will remind you of Atwater pulverizing Okoye or Eddie Mac leveling Brian Williams in SB32...because it's that good).
Davis eventually won the starting running back job for the Broncos season-opener and went on to play seven years for the Mile High team. The three-time Pro Bowler is considered one of the better running backs of all time, and had injuries not cut his amazing career short, there's no telling what No. 30 would have accomplished in the NFL.
In his seven seasons with the Broncos, Davis totaled 7,607 yards rushing, 60 touchdowns and a career rushing average of 4.6 yards per carry. He added 169 career receptions for 1,280 yards and five touchdowns. Between 1995 and 1998, Davis had 32 100-yard games in 61 regular season match-ups. The former Georgia Bulldog was exactly that on the field.
Davis played in a total of eight postseason games and put up some very impressive numbers - totaling 1,140 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns and a rushing average of 5.6 yards per attempt. Despite the constant snub from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Davis continues to be considered one of the best postseason running backs in NFL history.
Named the Super Bowl XXXII MVP, Davis had 30 carries for 157 yards and a Super Bowl-record three touchdowns. All this despite suffering from a debilitating migraine that blinded him in the second quarter and almost kept him out of the second half.
Of course, McCaffrey's famous block was a contributing factor in Davis' outstanding stats.
For MHR's Ian Henson, TD's perseverance over pain and utter dominance in the game stood out more than any of Elway's big plays.
People remember the helicopter dive, but that to me has always been a cop out. I remember that Terrell Davis had a migraine. I had migraines, I knew that meant that he couldn't see. That even breathing was too loud. Most impressively, that migraine came in the first quarter. He missed almost all of the second quarter. Then he finished the game with 150+ yards and three touchdowns. ...That spoke to me - a man with even his own body turning against him owned the game he loved on the world's biggest stage.
To Davis, it has always been about the game he loved. Even now when he continues to get passed over for Canton, the running back takes it in stride.
Speaking to BroncoMike in an exclusive interview last year, Davis said he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because he made the most of what he had in his short time in the NFL.
I've had one of the greatest postseason records in the history of the game. To me it's a question about longevity or impact. ...If you base it on longevity, then the conversation is over. But if you look at my career, there's nothing else I could have accomplished. Look at the big moments, when the games were at stake my performances speak for themselves - regular season and postseason. Watch the games - you'll see that I belong."
You do belong there, TD, but you'll always belong here.
"Complete domination, regular and postseason" - Bronco Mike
- Pro Football Hall Of Fame finalist 2015
- Two-time Super Bowl champion (XXXII, XXXIII)
- Super Bowl MVP (XXXII)
- NFL's Most Valuable Player, 1998
- Selected to the Pro Bowl three times
- Was selected to the first team All-Pro team three times
- Two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year award winner
- Three-time AFC rushing leader
- AFC Player of the year (1996)
- NFL 1990s All-Decade Team
- Rushed for 2,008 yards in 1998
- Denver Broncos 50th Anniversary Team
- Denver Broncos All-Time Career Leader (Rushing Attempts, Rushing Yards, Rushing Touchdowns)