Ian St. Clair and I had some pretty interesting discussions on this week’s edition of Mile High Report Radio. Heading into the bye week the Broncos are coming of a thrilling win. Even still there are a lot of kinks to work out with the offense. For the defense, the bye week could not have come at a better time.
So, what is there to focus on in the bye week? How about the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Did you roll your eyes? I did, but why? Why do Denver Bronco fans have to live like this? What has happened that relegates the Denver Broncos to third class citizen status in the NFL? Do we not win Super Bowls? Are we on a historic losing streak that I don’t know about?
The history of the Denver Broncos and the Hall of Fame is infuriating to fans. No one can really say why, but John Elway was the first of only four former Broncos to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. FOUR. How is that even possible? When Floyd Little retired he was the second leading rusher in NFL history. It took an immense effort from a true fan to finally get him inducted.
Just Google "Merlin Olsen talks about Randy Gradishar." Unbelievable he isn’t in the Hall. Louie Wright was the original shut down corner. He essentially cut off half the field for opposing offenses. Lionel Taylor was the first receiver ever to catch 100 passes in a season. These all-time Broncos greats are the first in a long line of Denver Broncos that deserve recognition, but have been turned away by the national media.
Now we see it happening to a new batch of Broncos greats. After Elway, Shannon Sharpe, Gary Zimmerman, and Floyd Little, the committee has been unwilling to include anyone who played for the Orange and Blue. Terrell Davis has been patiently waiting to hear his name called. As the unquestioned greatest running back in playoff history, the only thing holding him back has been the length of his career.
Did Earl Campbell lose votes because of his career’s length, or Gayle Sayers? For a five year span, you would be hard pressed to find a running back in NFL history with Davis’s accolades, or impact on the league. We know them. We are Broncos Country. The issue here isn’t whether or not we know that Davis is the only player in history to average 100 yards from scrimmage in both the regular season and the post season.
So, what is the issue? Why is a member of the 1990s All-Decade team, 8 time Pro-Bowler, two-time first team All-Pro, and owner of one of the most iconic hits in NFL history stuck outside the Hall? Steve Atwater is one of the most feared safeties in NFL history. Perhaps, he is so scary that the writers have been too afraid to vote for him? Although, that is not how this works.
Since Pat Bowlen became owner of the Broncos, they have been the winningest regular season team in the NFL, and are just behind the New England Patriots if the playoffs are included. There have been great players. Even Pat Bowlen can’t get into the Hall of Fame. This has to be about more than just a few writers not knowing NFL history. It has to be some type of conspiracy.
How can you explain the number of Chiefs (12), or Vikings (13), or Cardinals (11) players in the Hall? It boggles the mind that teams of futility have "Hall of Fame" caliber talent, but one of the best franchises in NFL history has just four. I can only imagine that it is a cruel hoax, or aliens. What could the possible explanation be other than that?
Perhaps this is the year. Terrell Davis has been gaining support from some of the biggest names in the NFL media. While the consensus is that LaDanian Tomlinson is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, this may be the best opportunity to put Davis in. Even Tomlinson has lobbied for Davis, often voicing his desire to see him enshrined in Canton. Davis being a member of the NFL Network works in his favor as well.
Maybe it seems like whining, and it probably is. Broncos Country stumbles through the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, head shaking, arms raised in confusion, unsure of what to do. We keep landing back at the same question, "why?" I have never been given a satisfactory answer. No one can truly explain the lack of Broncos in the sham of a Hall of Fame. The Broncos that have been enshrined were obvious selections, even if it took longer than it should have. There is a plethora of Broncos greats that deserve a place among the greatest.
This year, there are five guys with a chance at enshrinement. None more deserving than Atwater and Davis. We shall see what happens. The road to Canton is long at this point. Believe me, Broncos Country will be watching all the way.