Good morning, Broncos Country!
A thought has been in my mind for the last week.
I know I’m not alone because a search on Mile High Report brings stories and FanPosts from the past on this topic. So it’s been on the minds of Denver Broncos fans for some time.
Why isn’t Lyle Alzado in the Ring of Fame? Should the former defensive lineman be in the Broncos Ring of Fame?
This question started to bounce around in my mind last weekend when I watched, for the third time, his “A Football Life.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s remarkable. It’s tragic. It’s compelling. It’s heartbreaking. It’s amazing.
For the sake of clarity, I wasn’t born when Alzado played in Denver. All I can do is base my opinion on what others have said about him, clips and his stats. Let’s start with stats. For official numbers, neither the NFL nor Pro Football Reference have them for his time in Denver. The defensive lineman played from 1971-1985, playing with the Broncos the longest, from ‘71-78. Alzado played in 196 games and started 195. In Denver, he played in 99 and started 98. That highlights his commitment. Alzado also was a two-time All Pro (once in Denver in 1977) and a two-time Pro Bowler (‘77-78). That speaks to his talent.
When you listen to former Broncos linebacker Tom Jackson and safety Billy Thompson, without Alzado there is no Orange Crush. He was the attitude and persona of that defense. Some even say Alzado was the face of the Orange Crush and the Broncos. The way fans flocked to him, you can see why. When you see the highlights, it makes total sense. He made everyone on the field better. That highlights his talents as a player and leader.
But as good as Alzado was on the field, and he was damn good, he was even better off of it. What he did in the community is legendary. He was acknowledged for that work with the Byron “Whizzer” White Award in 1977 (as a member of the Broncos). As the NFL Players Association story says, “The NFL Players Association annually recognizes players who go above and beyond to perform community service in their team cities and hometowns. The Byron ‘Whizzer’ White Award is the highest honor the NFLPA can bestow on a player.” That highlights the man but also the enigma that was Alzado.
So why isn’t Alzado in the Broncos Ring of Fame?
Andrew Mason shared his thoughts on the subject in a recent mailbag:
“Lyle Alazado did have some very good seasons with the Broncos, was very effective when he played with the Broncos. Why he isn’t in the Ring of Fame? Well, as good as he was, looking at some of the other players on the defense at the same time, he kind of comes in a notch below the Randy Gradishars, Louis Wrights, even a Paul Smith, who was there when Lyle Alzado first came to Denver and lingered through the Orange Crush years. Although (Smith) was kind of a rotational guy toward the end. Paul Smith was a bigger player in the early ‘70s, he’s in the Ring of Fame. Certainly the contentious nature of Alzado’s departure. There were some issues there.”
In my mind, it goes back to the enigma that Alzado was. He was a canon who could fire at the snap of a finger. Case in point: To this day there’s the “Lyle Alzado Rule” that says you can’t use your helmet as a weapon. But he also had the biggest heart. I think his steroid use plays a huge part in what people think about him. I would hope his time with the Raiders doesn’t play a role in that because that’s just silly. Perhaps Mason is right about how Alzado’s time in Denver ended is part of that, but the Ring of Fame committee needs to get over it. Shannon Sharpe played for and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. And there’s John Lynch. Both of them are in the Ring of Fame.
Alzado played a huge role in the Broncos’ first taste of success as a franchise. He was the face of one of the most historic defenses in NFL history. Heck, he may have been the face of the league come 1977. That means Alzado over the course of his eight seasons helped put the Broncos on the map. But all of that pales in comparison to what he did in the Denver community. All of that spells Ring of Famer.
Why isn’t Alzado in the Broncos Ring of Fame? I have no answer, but it’s time the committee get it fixed.
Should Lyle Alzado be in the Broncos Ring of Fame?
This poll is closed
No shot, he played for the Raiders
Perhaps, but not before ... (put in the comments)
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