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Reason #3: As an 8-time Pro-Bowler, Atwater’s skill had long been heralded by those in the know

Now the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame-voting sportswriters need to take notice too.

Steve Atwater Broncos

Although we often scoff at the Pro Bowl for its lack of authenticity and any sort of competition intensity, being selected to the Pro Bowl as a player is still very much a big deal.

It says to the world that a player’s coaches, peers on the field and fans recognize his hard work and skill as something above and beyond.

And while most players would still always prefer to have that World Champs ring instead of a long list of personal accolades, a Pro Bowl selection brings with it some very satisfactory validation.

Back in an era when the Pro Bowl seemed to be more of a cherished game by both players and fans, Broncos’ safety Steve Atwater was invited to eight Pro Bowls. Of his 11 seasons in the NFL, three-fourths of them earned the SmilinAssassin an invitation to the all-star game.

Atwater’s first Pro Bowl came his second year in the league in 1990 when No. 27 had two interceptions, two forced fumble and 173 tackles.

The safety would earn six consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl, and his final appearance would be in 1998, the same year Atwater played a crucial role in the Denver Broncos becoming world champions.

Obviously Pro Bowl appearances on their own do not merit induction into the Hall of Fame, but certainly no player could be considered a Hall-of-Famer without also being a Pro-Bowler.

Atwater reached that level of elite performance an impressive eight out of 11 times.

That is definitely HOF-worthy.