I could reminisce all day about Denver Broncos great, and Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist, Steve Atwater’s playing career. In fact, Mile High Report has done just that every day for three weeks. Today, we take a slightly different approach.
I’m not going to talk about his crushing hit on Christian Okoye. I won’t regale you with tales of his final play of Super Bowl XXXII where he knocked everybody out. Nor will I break down the most important play of that game, his strip sack of Brett Favre. We’ve covered all that.
If those plays, and his career, don’t speak for themselves, then the Hall of Fame voters are blind. Instead, I’m going to tell you about a man who is deserving of the Hall based on his character, love of the game, and love of the Broncos organization.
Perhaps the best thing that has come out of MHR’s relationship with Orange and Blue 760 is the opportunity I have had to speak to Atwater outside of football. He is kind, humble, and genuinely loves the his role with the Broncos today.
If I could offer a short story, we recently had Atwater on the MHR Radio Podcast. It was on a day that snowed in Denver. When he jumped on to record with Ian St. Clair and me, he said he almost missed our email letting him know that we were ready to start because he was out shoveling snow with his boys. I joked, “Steve, isn’t that why we have kids, so they can get that stuff done for us?”
“You gotta lead by example, Adam.”
Did I just learn a life lesson from Steve Atwater while joking around before recording our podcast? Here’s the thing — I already knew that. However, it speaks to the character of the man. Of course he could have his boys do the work, but he lives like he played.
Steve was always moving and always working. He told Ian and me a story on the podcast about a play that stuck with him from his college days. An opposing player appeared to be tackled, and he let up. Instead of the play being over, the player broke free and scored a touchdown.
Atwater never let that feeling happen again. He never wanted to give up on a play like that again. And so, on the field and off, he has been a consummate professional. He is a great representative of the organization, and truly cares about the fans.
Patrick Smyth, executive vice president of public and community relations for the Broncos, said the same about the legend who walks around Dove Valley and could not be any more humble.
“From his modesty and humility, you’d have no idea Steve was an eight-time Pro Bowler, two-time Super Bowl champion and one of the greatest safeties in NFL history,” Smyth told MHR. “He’s truly one of the nicest, kindest people you could ever meet. Steve’s just an incredible ambassador for the Broncos, the community and the game of football.”
I get it. This is a bit of a puff piece. It blows me away that a kid from Greeley who grew up in the 1980s and 90s even gets the chance to get to know Steve Atwater just a little beyond football.
But having the opportunity to interview him for the podcast, and talk to him about football, it has become obvious - Steve Atwater is deserving of the Hall of Fame. Both for on the field play, and the man he is off the field.