FanPost

Lyle Alzado belongs in the Denver Broncos’ Ring of Fame.

There, I said it.

Come at me. Flood my mentions on Twitter. Go to town in the comments below. There is absolutely no argument that will convince me otherwise. Why? Because I have heard them all.

"There’s no way you could have heard them all."

I have. Because there are not many; in fact, there are only a few that ever come up and I can counter them all. Which is why I am writing about it here.

So let’s review the arguments against Alzado and why they hold little to no merit (to me, anyway).

"He abused steroids"

Of the arguments I have heard, this is probably the most valid. Lyle Alzado used steroids and admitted to it; but he was not the only one to use them, as many players in that era did. He was, however, among the first professional athletes in not just the NFL but other sports leagues to openly admit to using steroids, but he didn’t just stop with his admission. He joined the fight against steroid use, which he believed was the cause of the cancer that ultimately killed him.

"Now look at me. My hair's gone, I wobble when I walk, and I have trouble remembering things. My last wish? That no one else dies this way." -Lyle Alzado, Sports Illustrated, 1991

He selflessly used his sickness as his primary argument against steroids and the damaging effects it has on the body. To me, that only adds to his personal character; and if you look into his history of off-field contributions, you know character was something he was not short on having.

"He played for other teams for half of his career"

This is the most common argument against his induction into the Broncos’ Ring of Fame, and it is crap. If the first thing you say against Alzado is "He played for other teams" your argument is invalid.

Steve Atwater, Austin Gonsoulin, Rich Jackson, Charley Johnson, Craig Morton, Haven Moses, Shannon Sharpe, Paul Smith, Lionel Taylor, Frank Tripucka, Jim Turner, Gary Zimmerman, Jason Elam, and John Lynch. If these greats - who all played for other teams, are in the Ring of Fame, than it should not be an argument against Alzado.

Some players like Sharpe, Atwater, and Elam only spent a brief time on other teams, while many others, including but certainly not limited to, Tripucka, Zimmerman, and Lynch, established themselves elsewhere before coming to Denver. Some did not even retire with the Broncos, it wasn’t a thing in the early decades of the NFL as players usually retired with the last team they played for. In fact, several Broncos’ Ring of Famers fell into that category by retiring with the Broncos. They did not begin their career in Denver or make a name for themselves with the Broncos, but that is where they ended their careers.

"Yeah, but one of those teams was the Raiders. You can’t induct someone who played for our hated rival."

Rich Jackson (Inaugural class of 1984) and Gene Mingo (Class of 2014) both played for the Raiders.

I am willing to bet that if Bill Romanowski were to be inducted, Broncos fans would praise the choice even though he, like Alzado, played for the Raiders, played in a Super Bowl with the Raiders, used PEDs, had his own share of on-field issues (J.J. Stokes, anyone?) while simultaneously being active off-field in the community. Why would it be okay with fans for Romo to be inducted but not Alzado despite the similarities?

"He won a Super Bowl with another team (Raiders)."

Shannon Sharpe (Ravens), Jim Turner (Jets), Craig Morton (Cowboys), John Lynch (Buccaneers), and Peyton Manning* (Colts), all received Super Bowl championship rings with teams not named the Broncos.

That is why you play the game. Every athlete, from high school to professional ranks, in every sport, plays to win the championship. Some win multiple, many do not win any, and some even go as far as signing with, or requesting to be traded to, a contender for a chance to win just one, or one more (Peyton Manning, Ray Bourque).

*Peyton Manning, who spent 14 of his 18-year career in Indianapolis and won Super Bowl XLI with the Colts, is a lock for the Ring of Fame as soon as he is eligible. Had the Broncos not won a Super Bowl with him he would still be, and fans would not disagree given what the Broncos accomplished with him leading the offense.

Final thoughts

I have seen many Broncos fans celebrate John Lynch’s 2016 induction while condemning Alzado. As a firm believer in standing by what you believe, I feel the need to speak out on this one. John Lynch played only four years of his career in a Broncos’ uniform, and while they were four damn good and damn fun years, there was nothing transcendent or symbolic about his or the Broncos’ play during those years that merits his induction. It goes without saying that his off-field contributions are what brought about his induction. Both John Lynch and Lyle Alzado, while playing for the Denver Broncos, were recognized by the NFL for their contributions to the community - Alzado in 1977 and Lynch in 2007. The biggest difference between the two is years with the Broncos and how their play impacted the Broncos.

Without Alzado, the Broncos’ famed Orange Crush Defense would not have been what it was. Teammates have all admitted that Lyle was the face of that defense, that their swagger and nastiness on the field came from him, but at the same time said he was a gentle giant off the field - especially when contributing to the community around him.

Yes, he abused steroids and admitted to helping teammates get them, too. His health paid for it later in his career, and at 43 years old, he died of cancer just seven years after retiring. His admission and bravery after the fact should be something to commend, not condemn.

Lyle Alzado was a key piece of a defense that truly put the Denver Broncos on the map - and later became a key part on why so many players and fans speak out against performance enhancing drugs. Instead of criticizing him for his mistakes and choices, why not celebrate him for the impact he made in Denver, both on and off the field?

Lyle Alzado belongs in the Denver Broncos’ Ring of Fame, and it is past time the Broncos inducted him.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR.