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Horse Tracks: Mile High Report's 'Greatest to Wear' series revisited: #16-20

During the lockout of 2011, Mile High Report delved into the history books and declared, by jersey number, the greatest Denver Broncos to wear that number. Since then, the Broncos traded for Peyton Manning, set a ton of records, won two AFC Championships, won a Super Bowl, and put together one of the most dominant defenses the NFL has ever known. With such an action packed five years, now is the time to see what, if any, changes should be made to to this list.

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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 greats will remain unchanged. Some have already been changed with #0-10 and #11-15. What's in store for #16-20?


Brian [Shrout] went with Tom Rouen and the members chose Jake Plummer.

Don't get me wrong, I love me some Tom Rouen. He's a two-time Super Bowl Champion, married to Olympian (and graduate of my high school) Amy Van Dyken, and is a solid guy all around. However, as cool as Rouen is, he did not ski down the mountain in Winter Park to announce the Broncos 2016 4th round draft pick, type-cool.

Plummer is awesome

Plummer is AWESOME! - To see the video, go to or click here.

In 2011 D'Andre Goodwin appeared in 1 game and recorded no stats. Consolation prize: He got to keep his jersey.

In 2015, Bennie Fowler joined the Broncos wearing #16. He appeared in 16 games and started in 1. He had 16 receptions (coincidence?!) for 203-yards. Bennie is probably best known for his 31-yard catch in the 4th quarter of the playoff game against the Steelers. On 3rd and 12, when down 13-12, making big plays like that will get you noticed. Fowler also hauled in the last points that Peyton Manning would ever score, a two-point conversion in the closing minutes of Super Bowl 50.

While the big plays were not only clutch, but terrific to see, they're just not enough to usurp Tom Rouen or Jake Plummer. However, I do think Fowler has a few Broncos years yet left in him. Who knows what the future could hold for him? When it comes to #16, the debate on who is the greatest to wear it still rests on Tom Rouen and Jake Plummer. Although, it's Plummer if you ask me. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: #16

#17 - CHANGED!

Brock Osweiler is now the greatest Bronco to wear #17.

Steve DeBerg beat ten other mediocre players.

Throughout his career, Steve was noted to be one of the best Play-action pass quarterbacks of all time. DeBerg also gained a reputation for playing through injuries. He has also preceded, backed up or succeeded a host of pretty good quarterbacks, including Jim Plunkett, Joe Montana, Craig Morton, John Elway, Steve Young, Vinny Testaverde, Dave Krieg and Dan Marino.

I'll be honest, with Glenn Martinez and Darius Watts helping to round out an incredibly weak field, DeBerg was the right choice in 2011. However, now the Broncos have someone who actually contributed to a Super Bowl. Sure, he wussed out of the Super Bowl festivities, like the ring ceremony and the visit to the White House, but that doesn't diminish his contribution to the Broncos... or the fact that he wore a jersey number that has historically under-performed for the Broncos.

Brent was drafted by the Broncos in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft and will now spend 2016 and beyond with the Houston Texans. In his time in Denver, Burt threw for 11 touchdowns on 187 attempts for 2,126-yards. His 5-2 record arguably saved the Broncos during the 2015 regular season, helping them secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If he had handled his exit from Denver a little better, I probably wouldn't be gritting my teeth as I write this.

Also appearing in the #17 jersey since 2011 was returner Quan Cosby. With 27 punt returns for 269-yards, 17 kick returns for 457 yards, and the last name 'Cosby',  he wins the character battle with Brock every time.

I feel like I need to wash my hands. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: #17

#18 - CHANGED!

Frank "The Trip" Tripucka is the only player to wear #18 in the history of the franchise. According to Jim Saccomano of the Broncos, Tripucka's number was retired at a ceremony at Bears Stadium -- which later became the Original Mile High Stadium -- shortly before his retirement in 1963. It was the first number ever retired by the Broncos.

With only one person to wear #18 in the history of the Denver Broncos, this was arguably the the easiest article to write in the 2011 'Greatest to Wear' series. Not to diminish Frank Tripucka in any way, but the call is even easier to make in 2016.

Enter Peyton Manning.

With his last regular season game against San Diego being the exception, Manning started 57 of 58 games he appeared in. Over his four years in Denver, he amassed 45 wins and lost just 12 games. His 1,443 completions for 17,112 yards and 140 touchdowns was nothing short of incredible.

Peyton own practically all of the NFL quarterback records, including most passing yards (71,940), most passing yards in a season (2013 - 5,477), 539 touchdowns, most touchdowns in a season (2013 - 55),  most regular season wins (186), most combined wins, playoffs and regular-season (200), most touchdowns in a game (tied the record with 7), and many others.

Make no mistake who the greatest to wear #18 is these days. Peyton 'Freakin' Manning. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: #18


WR Eddie Royal wins this one with only 3 seasons under his belt.

The 2011 season would be Eddie Royal's fourth and last season with the Denver Broncos. Starting 8 games, he'd make 19 catches for 155-yards and a touchdown. He's been rotting in San Diego ever since.

Returner Isiah Burse donned the #19 in 2014. With 29 punt returns for 211 yards and 1 kick return for 7 yards, his time with Denver was not that notable.

Eddie Royal is still the choice. Denver Broncos Greats... By the numbers: #19


Louis Wright was drafted by the Broncos with the 17th overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft. He played his entire 12 year NFL career for the Denver Broncos. It didn't take him long to break into the starting lineup. He started 11 games as a rookie, making 2 interceptions and recovering a fumble. He followed that up with a breakout year (1977), intercepting 3 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown and helping lead the Broncos to their first Super Bowl (XII).

Louis Wright made #20 special for the Denver Broncos. The excerpt above doesn't do him justice with regard to how impactful he was on the Broncos and the NFL as a whole. To kick him off this list you'd have to be extra, extra extraordinary.

Had defensive back Brian Dawkins spent the majority of his career in Denver, he might have done just that. In the summer of 2011, he had two years under his belt and was about to embark on his third and last. Although, in that season he appeared in 14 games and started 12, his forced fumble, 3 sacks, and 39 tackles are just not enough to shove Louis Wright out of his spot in the 'Greatest to Wear' series.

Defensive back Mike Adams also had a strong showing during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He appeared in 32 games and started 23 of them. He notched an interception, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, and 108 tackles during his run in Denver.

Going into the 2016 season, there is a #20 on the roster that has a Super Bowl ring. Free safety Josh Bush has bounced around the league with the Jets, Broncos, Bills, and Broncos again. In his spotty play with the Broncos during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, he's started 1 game out of the 10 he's appeared in. He's hauled in two interceptions, forced a fumble, and notched 15 tackles.

Louis Wright, you're safe as the 'Greatest to Wear' #20 with the Denver Broncos.


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