We know better than to get our hopes up.
When it comes to the Denver Broncos and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, that’s how it works. If you play for the Broncos, no matter how great you were, the only way you’ll get in is if you buy a ticket to the supposed museum in Canton, Ohio, that supposedly honors the greatness of pro football.
Yet for some reason, that supposed museum refuses to accept that there were great players who did in fact play in Denver.
The most recent example is Randy Gradishar. The Broncos linebacker should already have his bust in the Hall of Fame, and had he played in (enter city here), he would. But yet again, the Seniors Committee – this year it was Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin, Jeff Legwold, Ira Miller and Dan Pompei – continued the snub theme.
Rest assured, we’ll hear the same bullshit from these five men that we always hear. You know, “this was a difficult decision” and how “there are so many deserving players” … blah, blah, blah. Spare us the same old tired excuses.
Gradishar is one of the greatest to ever play the game, and the fact these five men can’t/don’t/are unwilling to recognize that is beyond reproach and unacceptable — but not unexpected.
Don’t take it from me.
Hall of Fame defensive lineman Merlin Olsen:
“If you ask me to name the five best linebackers I played against or had a chance to cover in my broadcasting career, Randy Gradishar would be on that list. He was the kind of player that I would have loved to have as a teammate. There is no question about credentials here; Randy Gradishar belongs in the Hall of Fame.”
Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent:
“Randy Gradishar absolutely should be in the Hall of Fame. Frankly, I’m surprised he is not in already … His play was characterized by intensity and intelligence. No one played harder or smarter than Randy. He had the proverbial ‘nose for the football.’ His size, speed, intelligence, and work habits separated him from the other players at his position, and on short yardage, his ability to anticipate the hole and beat the ball carrier to it were the best in football.”
Let’s add one more powerful quote to highlight how badly they got this wrong yet again.
Jim Saccomano told me this last summer for the story I wrote earlier this week:
“Woody Hayes said he was the best football player he ever coached,” Saccomano said. “And at one point, for a 10-year period, I don’t know if this is still the case, the Football Encyclopedia had the 250 best players to ever play the game, and Randy Gradishar was perennially listed as one of the 250 best players to ever play the game.”
It’s a shame and sham that Gradishar is not in the Hall of Fame. It’s one of the most absurd wrongs in NFL and pro football history. But it’s not unexpected. When you play for the Broncos or own the Broncos, the contributions you made to the game don’t matter.
It’s as if they didn’t happen.
It’s as if the Broncos don’t exist.