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. What changes are in store for #11-15?
Back in 2011:
The Kaptain chose Luke Prestridge and the members selected Bobby Anderson.
Since then, Trindon Holliday (2011-2012) and Jordan Norwood (2015-Present) have done the #11 proud.
Trindon Holliday was an explosive, yet terrifying, kick returner. Every time the ball sailed through the air, hearts across Broncos Country stopped. Sometimes, Holliday would run it back for a touchdown, others it would bounce off his facemask. Including playoffs, he had 5 returns for touchdowns. In 2012 his return against the Ravens in the playoffs was what kept the Broncos in the game... for Rahim Moore to blow in spectacular fashion.
Jordan Norwood caught on last year as a receiver in spots, hauling in 22 passed for 207-yards. He will likely be best known for his impressive 61-yard punt return in Super Bowl 50.
Despite these impressive accomplishments, they're just not enough to usurp the careers of both Luke Prestridge or Bobby Anderson. Simply put, they have played longer and have done more. Denver Broncos Greats... By the Numbers: #11
In 2011, the hands down favorite was Ring-of-Famer quarterback Charley Johnson.
Since then, receivers Matt Willis (2011-2012) and Andre Caldwell (2013-2015) have sported #12.
Matt Willis began playing in Denver in 2009 after sitting the 2008 season out. Between 2009 and 2012, Willis caught 29 passes for 374 yards with one touchdown.
Andre Caldwell joined the Broncos in 2013 and was last seen celebrating a win in Super Bowl 50. 'Bubba' was a scrappy receiver who never gave the Broncos a reason to cut him. Considered a bubble player during every training camp, Caldwell continued to make enough of an impression on the field to keep bringing him back. His 32 receptions for 337-yards and 5 touchdowns don't do his contributions justice. Caldwell joined the Detroit Lions as an unrestricted free agent following the 2015 season.
Sadly, when usurping a person on this list, doing so rarely happens when it's a Ring-of-Famer. While Willis and Caldwell wore the number well, the honor still goes to quarterback Charley Johnson. Denver Broncos Greats... By the Numbers: #12
Since 2011, no Broncos have worn #13. The honor of being the greatest to wear it sill belongs to quarterback Steve Tensi. Denver Broncos Greats... By the Numbers: #13
#14 - CHANGED!
In 2011 Brian Griese got the nod as the greatest to wear #14.
Cody Latimer has worn #14 since the Broncos drafted him in the second round of the 2014 draft. He's had 8 receptions for 82-yards and a touchdown. For a second round pick in his second year, he's been a disappointment.
Stokley played with Denver from 2007-2009 and then returned to the Broncos in 2012. During that time, he caught 153 passes for 2034 yards and 17 touchdowns.
It was close back in 2011, when MHR gave the nod to Griese, but Stokley's return in 2012 put him over the top in 2016. His 45 receptions for 544 yards and 5 touchdowns that year helped bring the Broncos back into NFL prominence. He was Peyton Manning's safety blanket on a new team, a contribution that can't be discounted. Lastly, let us never forget this play:
It's for these reasons that Brandon Stokely is now the greatest Denver Bronco to wear #14. Denver Broncos Greats... By the Numbers: #14
The Kaptain gave it to Marlin Briscoe. The members voted Brandon Marshall and some guy with 4 games experience.
There has only been one Denver Broncos player to wear #15 since 2011 and you know who it is.
Tim Tebow was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft and played with the Broncos until 2011. He completed 167 passes for 17 touchdowns. Tebow also rushed for 12 touchdowns. While these stats aren't awful, 9 interceptions and 15 fumbles in just 14 starts is staggering.
So how does he stack up against Marlin Briscoe?
Briscoe completed 93 passes for 14 touchdowns while rushing for 3 touchdowns. Marlin also struggled with turnovers, throwing 13 interceptions and fumbling 3 times while appearing in just 11 games.
So who gets the nod?
Sorry Tim, but your stats came in an era when quarterbacks couldn't be touched. Marlin's came in an era when quarterbacks couldn't be black. Also weighing into this decision is the impact that Marlin had on the NFL as a whole. You just can't underestimate the fact that he was the first black starting quarterback in the history of the National Football League. What's more he still holds the rookie touchdown record for the Denver Broncos, even over John Elway.
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