The man who most Denver Broncos fans felt was deserving of the Ring of Fame finally found his name on the list. Simon Fletcher was a terror on the outside in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Those defenses were pretty good overall too, with guys like Rulon Jones and Karl Mecklenburg also terrorizing opposing quarterbacks.
Mecklenburg shared a very nice note about his time as Fletcher's roommate. With John Elway at quarterback, it is hard for younger fans to understand how good that defense was back then. Second, probably, only to the Orange Crush defense of the late 1970s.
Eric Goodman, Les Shapiro and Tyler Polumbus of The Afternoon Drive talked with Fletcher about his election to the Broncos Ring of Fame in the sound bite above. Simon expressed his surprise and humility to the honor and helped remind all of us what a great player and person he was and is.
Broncos President and CEO, Joe Ellis, shared his thoughts on Fletcher being a long overdue addition to the Ring of Fame saying, "Next up was Simon Fletcher—long overdue that he be elected into the Ring of Fame. In his 11-year career, he never missed a game. The all-time leader in sacks. I don’t know what the number is exactly. I think it’s something like [103.5], which is 22 ahead of the second-place guy who is in the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame, and that’s Karl Mecklenburg. That was well-deserved."
Fletcher was excited about the news. So surprised he didn't have words, which is apparently something that is quite unusual for him.
"For someone who had in recent years barely shut his mouth, I'm speechless," said Fletcher. "But when I started coming back to my senses, the first thing I realized and thought about was all the guys [with whom] I had the privilege of playing on the Denver Broncos football team, and one guy that I had the privilege of playing for deserves as much credit for this honor as I could ever hope to deserve myself. As you know, being sports writers, you don't make a play—particularly a quarterback sack—unless you have guys protecting the other gaps, containing on the other side and great coverage in the backfield, as well as coaches who call the right things, the right plays to put you in the right position. So it's a credit to everybody."
Fletcher was quick to talk about his other teammates from that era when asked about the value of sacks back then, helping remind us all how good that defense back then really was.
"I think there were other guys on the other teams, both in the NFC and AFC, who were pretty skilled sack artists themselves, and also bear in mind I was on teams that included people like Rulon Jones, Karl Mecklenburg [and] Steve Atwater," Fletcher said. "I don't think the Pro Bowl committee was going to have the entire Broncos defense in the Pro Bowl on any given year, so there were some great guys that I was surrounded with who were voted in in those years. What my attitude was [was to] congratulate them and feel proud to have been a part of their success."
He has a point, especially given the lack of recognition this 2015 Broncos defense has gotten from around the league. From the Kansas City Chiefs getting more defenders in the Top 100 than the Broncos did to a complete lack of belief this defense can do it again in 2016.
In Denver, it is hard to get recognition for ones play on the field.
Fletcher believed the Broncos were a Super Bowl contender the minute Wade Phillips was hired. His affection for his former coach was clearly evident.
"When Wade was recently hired, I was with a friend when we heard the announcement and I told him, 'The Broncos are going to win a Super Bowl,' because Wade evaluates his personnel and he will do for these guys as he did for me and everyone who played on his teams when he was defensive coordinator and later head coach: He frees you up to do what you do best. I always say Wade has one style of defense, one defense to play, and it's called 'Sic 'em.' He'll cut you loose and let you go after it, knowing that you take risks, you may get hurt every once in a while, but if you get after people consistently, you'll come out on top more often than not."
Fletcher said he planned to celebrate his election to the Ring of Fame by sharing a few beers with some friends at his Grid-Iron Grill & BBQ restaurant in Ft. Morgan. But did his election bring tears to his eyes?
"Just based on my internal reaction when I talked with Patrick Smyth earlier, I think one of my eyes may sweat during the ceremony. Big boys don't cry, but we do sweat when we're in a hot situation, particularly from the eyes, in this case."
I guess not. Eye sweat is a little different than actual crying. I'm sure his mom might. Though it sounds like Fletcher might have gotten most of his toughness from her side.
"Well, she's a mom [so] she's a little bit biased. She said, 'Dang it, it's about time," and then she congratulated me. You know as well as I do because you field some of the questions and poll some of them every fall, for the past probably 13-14 years the question comes up, 'When is Simon Fletcher [going into the Ring of Fame?]" Well, Simon Fletcher was patiently waiting and each year that's passed, there have been guys who are absolutely worthy and have gone in."
Though the honor is impactful to Fletcher, the real meaning to him will come from being able to make more of an impact with kids in his community.
"I have thought about it for several years now, and it will mean a lot to some of the kids that I speak to at schools," Fletcher said. "I still try to do the community service even though I've been out of football for over 20 years. But most importantly to me, I now have six grandsons and I hope that it will inspire them, whether it be in athletics, academia, entrepreneurship or whatever. It will inspire them to put in the work to try to reach the top."
Are you happy to see Simon Fletcher finally get into the Broncos Ring of Fame?
This poll is closed