Here's what is going to happen. [MHR is] going to break down the Greatest Broncos to ever wear a certain number. Starting with #0 (yep, someone wore #0 for the Broncos) and going all the way to #99, [we'll] give you who [we] think was the best player to ever wear a certain number.
That's what former MHR 'Guru' John Bena said in his article introducing the 'Greatest to Wear' series. During the labor dispute and lockout of 2011, the MHR staff, with nothing better to do, did just what Bena set forth. Five seasons later, Broncos history has beefed out considerably and it's time to reexamine this list. For those that are curious or for those that want a refresher, here is the complete list of the greatest to wear, #0-99.
Many great will remain unchanged. Others will become glaringly different. Without further ado, here are jersey numbers 0-10.
There has only been one Denver Bronco to wear #0 and he played in 1962. FB John Olszewski is still the Greatest Bronco to wear #0. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: FB John Olszewski
Since 2011 there has been one Denver Bronco to wear the #1, K Connor Barth. Sadly for him, his five games in 2014 aren't nearly enough to unseat Broncos kicking legend Jason Elam. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: Kicker Jason Elam
Nobody has dared challenge Punter Mike Horan for his spot atop this list. Or nobody wanted to wear #2. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: Punter Mike Horan
While the debate rages this offseason regarding Broncos QB Trevor Semian and the open starting quarterback position, there is no debate here. The nod for greatest player to wear #3 still goes to the barefoot wonder, K Rich Karlis. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: K Rich Karlis
#4 - CHANGED!
Britton Colquitt - 2009-Present
Darrell Hackney QB 2007-2008
Micah Knorr P/K 2002-04
Ruben Rodriguez P 1992
Chris Norman P 1986
Robert Thompson WR 1987
Rick Duncan K 1967
Thus, for me, when in doubt, revert back to the (not so) good ole' days in Broncos history, the 60's, and pick the place kicker that appeared in just 2 games for the Broncos, attempting a total of 5 FG's, converting only 2. That's right, some teams have names like Brett Favre that top their list of greats that wore #4. For the Broncos, it's almost as good....
I get it, the selections were all pretty awful in 2011 for #4. The longest tenured Broncos with that number were only in Denver for a couple years, two kickers and a backup quarterback. Here, at the dawning of the 2016 season, this list paints a different picture. Kicker Britton Colquitt, you were a member of the Super Bowl 50 team and have enjoyed seven seasons as a Denver Bronco, far exceeding everyone on the list above. Britton Colquitt, you can now proudly call yourself the greatest to wear #4 for the Denver Broncos. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: A kicker from the 1960's - Rick Duncan
The player who was honored in 2011 remains the same in 2016. Although his time in Denver ended with a suspension and unceremonious release in 2014, kicker Matt Prater was about as solid as they come when it came to long-distance kicking for the Broncos. In 2013, Prater set the NFL record for longest field goal against the the Tennessee Titans. His 64-yard kick still stands as the longest ever. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: Matt Prater
Ol' Bubby Brister came out top in 2011, and still does today. Nobody wore #6 between then and now. Nobody except Brent Osweiler in 2012. However, Burt did his notable work wearing #17 and so you'll have to wait for the next installment of this review to find out if his work in 2015 was enough to make this list. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: QB Bubby Brister
Don't even bring up Kyle Orton. After being benched during the 2011 season, all hopes for him to make this list evaporated.
The only other player to wear #8 has been kicker Brandon McManus who came to the team in 2014. Brandon gave this list a run for its money during the 2015 postseason, making every one of his attempts including three in Super Bowl 50. Points were difficult for the Broncos to come by in 2015 and so his contribution to Broncos history shouldn't be taken lightly.
However, the choice in 2011 remains the smart choice in 2016. Like when Shanahan selected him to be the Broncos offensive coordinator and when Elway chose him to be head coach at the conclusion of the 2014 season, John Bena nailed it when he selected Gary Kubiak as the greatest Bronco to wear #8. He may not rock the ocho on game days anymore, but the fact remains that if it wasn't before, his is certainly a name that will appear in Broncos history books forever. A name that used to wear #8. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: Behind every great quarterback is a great backup
Another kicker takes the accolade. David Treadwell beats out Brady Quinn because he won more games for the Broncos.
Poor Brady Quinn never saw the field during regular season play. Nobody else has worn the number since and so it's for that reason David Treadwell remains the greatest to ever wear #9. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: K David Treadwell
#10 - CHANGED!
Jabar Gaffney WR 2009-Present
Clifford Russell WR 2008
Todd Sauerbrun P 2005-07
Triandos Luke WR 2004
Bucky Dilts P 1977-78
Mark Herrmann QB 1981-82
Steve Ramsey QB 1971-76
Jim Leclair QB 1967-68
John McCormick QB 1963, ‘65-66
Jabar Gaffney was one of many former New England Patriots who came to Denver when Josh McDaniels was hired as Head Coach. However, unlike many of the Patriot retreads, Gaffney has proven himself worthy of the orange and blue. In 2009, Gaffney finished second on the team with 54 receptions and 732 receiving yards. In 2010, he would do even better, reeling in 65 passes for a very respectable 875 yards.
Just a few months after I selected Jabar Gaffney as the greatest Bronco to wear #10, he was traded to the Washington Redskins for defensive end Jeremy Jarmon (who never made the 53-man roster). Gaffney bounced from the Redskins back to the Patriots and then ended his career with Miami. Earlier this year he was arrested for marijuana possession and TMZ got the video.
In 2014, the Denver Broncos signed free agent Emmanuel Sanders. In addition to being a Super Bowl champion, Sanders boasts 177 receptions, 2,539 receiving yards, and 15 touchdowns. In the playoffs, Sanders 23 receptions and 276 yards are nothing to be ashamed of (you know like getting pulled over by the police with "weed all over you"). How far we've come. Gaffney's paltry stats were enough to secure him a spot on the list, but Sanders blew him off it in only two years. Emmanuel Sanders, you can proudly proclaim yourself to be the greatest Denver Bronco to ever wear #10. Congratulations!
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