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Horse Tracks: Mile High Report's 'Greatest to Wear' series revisited: #32-34

During the lockout of 2011, Mile High Report delved into the history books and declared, by jersey number, the greatest Denver Broncos to wear their 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 six years, now is the time to see what, if any, changes should be made to this list.

New England Patriots v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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. Six 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, #11-15, #16-20, #21-25, #26-28, and 29-31 already examined. What's in store for #32-34?


Jon Keyworth was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the 6th round (144th overall) of the 1974 NFL Draft, but was immediately traded to the Denver Broncos where he played his entire 7-year career. As a rookie, he and Otis Armstrong trampled the Oakland Raiders, rushing for 148 and 146 yards, respectively, in a 20-17 victory. A Running Back with the size of a Tight End, Keyworth made a living by delivering potent 5-yard collisions and specialized in grinding out tough yardage consistently. Jon plowed the way for 2 of the NFL’s greatest running backs, Floyd Little and Otis Armstrong.

In the Bronco's magical 1977 Super Bowl season, Jon recorded and performed the hit song "Make Those Miracles Happen" which remains to this day the fastest selling single release in Colorado history. It ended up as a theme song for the entire State of Colorado to rally around the Team.

In 1980, his third son, Scott, was born prematurely. After several operations, Keyworth brought him home; a month later, Scott died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. That did it for Jon. He played the 1980 season, then retired.

He finished having started 69 of 95 games, with 2,653 yards and 22 touchdowns on 699 carries, earning every bit of a 3.8 yard average. He also had 141 catches for 1,057 yards, 3 touchdowns and adding 7 kick returns for 124 yards. Jon completed his only pass for a 32-yard touchdown to Rick Upchurch in a Week 9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in 1979.

Jon Keyworth was one of the most versatile athletes to ever play with the Denver Broncos.

In 2009, the Denver Broncos signed Tony Carter as an undrafted free agent and was later signed to the practice squad. For the last two games of that season, he was promoted to the active roster. His impact was so nominal that he did not appear in the first ‘Greatest to Wear’ series. After spending the 2010 season with the New England Patriots, he rejoined the Denver Broncos in the 2011 season. Tony Carter was just good enough to make it on the field to see just how bad he really was. While calling him a modern-day Roc Alexander would be too harsh, calling him serviceable would be generous. Of his 40 games in Denver, he started just 3. He logged 3 interceptions for 55-yards and 1 touchdown. He forced 1 fumble and recovered 4 for 2 touchdowns.

In 2016, the Denver Broncos drafted Andy Janovich in the 6th round. Billed as a bruising fullback, ‘Jano’ just could not stay healthy and made no impact on the 2016 season. Out of 11 games played, he started 5. He had just 5 receptions for 44-yards and 4 rushes for 33-yards and a touchdown. It remains to be seen how he will be used in the Broncos 2017 offense or if he will be able to stay healthy enough to find out.

Simply put, Tony Carter just wasn’t good enough and Jano is too new to make a serious run at unseating Jon Keyworth. Denver Broncos Greats... By the Numbers #32


Gene Lang was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 11th round (298th overall) of the 1984 NFL Draft. He played 4 years in Denver and 3 years as an Atlanta Falcon. Lang started 10 of his 55 games with the Broncos, rushing 210 times for 757 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 57 passes for 439 yards and 7 touchdowns. Gene returned 61 kickoffs for 1,323 yards, a 21.7 average. More than just a "Plugger," Gene Lang was 9th in the NFL in yards per touch in 1985 and in 1986, he was 7th in the league with a 22.9 kick return average.

In 2012 the Broncos signed Duke Ihenacho as an undrafted free agent and he spent most of that season bouncing from practice squad to the active roster and back again. He appeared in just two games in 2012. Ihenacho garnered a bit of a fan following in 2013 when he started 14 of his 15 regular season games. His 3 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and 67 tackles was enough to make him a starter throughout the playoffs and into the most recent Super Bowl shellacking. He was waived before the 2014 season.

During the 2015 season Shiloh Keo tweeted himself into a job by reaching out to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. That was probably the best decision of his life. Keo signed with the Broncos in December of their Super Bowl winning campaign. Although he played in just 7 games, his 1 interception helped the Broncos beat the San Diego Chargers in the final game of the season and ultimately clinch the 1-seed in the playoffs. He was on the Super Bowl 50 championship team.

While Duke amazed the Broncos faithful with his rise from obscurity to a Super Bowl, his career was just not one that could unseat Gene Lang. Sadly, the exact same could be said for Keo. At least Keo got the hardware that Lang never could. Denver Broncos Greats... By The Numbers #33


Tyrone Braxton was drafted by the Broncos in the 12th round (334th overall) of the 1987 NFL Draft. He played 12 of his 13 year career for the Denver Broncos with a one year stint with the Miami Dolphins in 1994. To Broncos fans, "Chicken" was the scrawny strong safety who symbolized perseverance, moving from unheralded 12th-round draft pick out of North Dakota State to two-time Super Bowl champion.

Tyrone was listed as 5'11", 185 and had average speed. Many would say he was too short, too light and too slow...until the game began. In fact, his teammates used to make fun of him because he had chicken legs, but Tyrone Braxton was all player, all the time.

During his years with the Broncos, Denver won two world championships, two other AFC championships, and the Broncos lost an AFC title game at Buffalo in 1991.

He made key plays in both of the Broncos Super Bowl victories when he made a 1st quarter interception against the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII while recovering a fumble in the 4th quarter of Super Bowl XXXIII against Atlanta.

Although Kyle McCarthy ‘played’ with the Broncos in 2011, his impact was so nominal it’s best to revive the writeup MHR hall-of-fame writer KaptainKirk did on him back in 2011. All said, he would appear in just 4 games and the two tackles he made in 2010 would be his only notable stat.

Kyle McCarthy joined the Broncos as a college free agent on April 30, 2010. He spent the first 5 weeks on the Practice Squad before being promoted to the active roster on Oct. 16, 2010. McCarthy made his NFL debut against the New York Jets in Week 6, seeing action on Special Teams. Kyle made his mark across the pond in London during Week 8 against San Francisco. McCarthy made his first 2 career Tackles, on Special Teams. In Week 10 against Kansas City, McCarthy made his pro debut on defense and recorded his first 2 tackles (1 solo) in the NFL. He was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve with a knee injury on Dec. 13th.

Will Parks, the safety that the Broncos drafted in the 6th round of the 2016 draft has had a very bad week. Despite catching heat for posting an unauthorized video of a Broncos practice and tangling himself up in a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, he had a very promising rookie season. He played in all 16 games, had 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery and was involved in one of the greatest plays of the 2016 season... and it was worth just 2-points.

Kyle McCarthy barely made it to be revisited in this series and Will Parks is too new (and in too much damn trouble!) to be considered to replace Tyrone Braxton. Oh, and it’s freakin’ Tyrone Braxton! No way. Denver Broncos Greats... By The Numbers #34


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