Steve Atwater is one step closer.
The Denver Broncos legend was one of the 25 modern-era semifinalists for the 2020 Class to the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced earlier this week. Yes, Atwater should already have his bust in the Canton, Ohio, museum, but there is momentum on his side and a lot of people, including the members of the selection committee, think this should be Atwater’s year.
As I told Adam Malnati on the MHR Radio Podcast (Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify), Broncos Country knows not to put the cart before the horse when it comes to Denver and the Hall of Fame. Too many great players from Denver have been overlooked to ever feel “confident” about their prospects. Still, I really feel this is the year for the “Smilin’ Assassin” to get the knock on the door from Hall of Fame President David Baker. Atwater is a semifinalist for the ninth consecutive year. The 15 finalists will be announced on Jan. 2 and the 48-member selection committee will narrow it down to the five inductees on Feb. 1 in Miami (the day before the Super Bowl).
What may help Atwater take the final step this time around is the lack of players considered first-ballot selections. Only former safety Troy Polamalu seems to be the one this year. For those wondering if the Pittsburgh Steelers great may hurt Atwater’s chances, the last two Broncos to get inducted did so with a player from the same position — Terrell Davis went in with LaDainian Tomlinson and Champ Bailey with Ty Law. I think the same happens for Atwater.
By now, everyone in Broncos Country knows why one of the greatest safeties in NFL history needs to get inducted. MHR did our 27 reasons in 27 days last year. Atwater came up just a little bit short.
The time has come to get the “Smilin’ Assassin” in the Hall of Fame.
Speaking of another Broncos legend who is long past due, Gradishar falls into the Seniors Class (players who have been retired at least 25 years). In honor of the Centennial Year for the NFL, the Hall announced it will expand this year’s class to 20 members — 10 seniors, three contributors (non coaches and players) and two coaches. That’s to go with the five modern-era inductees.
While Atwater seems to have momentum, Gradishar does as well.
There is a chance Denver gets two inductees for the 2020 Class.
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