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Creating an all-time favorite Broncos team

A team of the all-time fan-favorites for the Denver Broncos.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
One has to wonder who makes Lindsay’s list.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Lost amid the sad news of Pat Bowlen’s passing on Friday, Purple Daily’s Matthew Coller threw out a tweet asking all of NFL Twitter for their three favorite Broncos. I saw it Saturday and threw it out. Between Coller and my tweets, there were more than 350 replies.

I found the results both illuminating and interesting. So naturally, I thought I’d make a team of them.


Peyton Manning

John Elway

Jake “The Snake” Plummer

Kyle Orton

Tim Tebow

Steve DeBerg

Bradlee Van Pelt

Case Keenum

Gary Kubiak

Brian Griese

Jay Cutler

Kyle Sloter

Marlin Briscoe

I’ll admit I did not expect so many names at QB, which is probably a pretty decent oversight on my part. For my own top three, I picked Peyton Manning, but Jake Plummer was a hard name to omit. I got some grief because I didn’t include John Elway, which I can explain. I became a true fan in 2003, and while I’ve spent a good bit of time watching Elway’s own tape, I didn’t consider any player I didn’t watch during their career in orange & blue.

Running Back

Terrell Davis

Phillip Lindsay

Floyd Little

Steve Sewell

Bobby Humphrey

Sammy Winder

Clinton Portis

Mike Bell

Travis Henry

Otis Armstrong

Mike “the Marine” Anderson

Knowshon Moreno

Cecil Sapp

Jon Keyworth

Gerald Wilhite

Orlandis Gary

Tatum Bell

Reuben Droughns

As one of the most identifiable players on any team, it should come as no surprise backs got so much love. The sheer number of names here gives you both an idea of how many successful backs the team has had over the years and how vast Broncos Country truly spans.


Rod Smith

Ed McCaffrey

Demaryius Thomas

Haven Moses

Vance Johnson

Ashley Lelie

Isaiah McKenzie

Eric Decker

Brandon Marshall

Justin Armour

Rick Upchurch

Ricky Nattiel

Mark Jackson

Steve Watson

Emmanuel Sanders

Jordan Taylor

Tight End

Shannon Sharpe

Dwayne Carswell

Like running back, the sheer variety here intrigued me. The Broncos have been pretty awesome at receiver over the years, what with the 3 Amigos followed by Rod and Eddie Mac. DT’s place here reminds me how painful it was to watch Thomas get traded midseason last year, and how weird it will be to see him catch passes from Tom Brady this fall.

Offensive Line

Tom Nalen

Eldon Danenhauer

Trey Teague

Greg Eslinger

Ryan Harris

Gary Zimmerman

Mark Schlereth

The most anonymous position on the team, I’ll admit I had to look up Danenhauer as I’d never heard of him. I best remember Eslinger for turning my starting center job over to him in an older Madden game.

Defensive Line / Linebacker

Trevor Pryce

Von Miller

Rich “Tombstone” Jackson

Al Wilson

Karl Mecklenberg

DeMarcus Ware

Randy Gradishar

Lyle Alzado

Neil Smith

Rubin Carter

Mike Lodish

Terrance Knighton

D.J. Williams

Tom Jackson

Josey Jewell

Derek Wolfe

Simon Fletcher

Bill Romanowski

Rulon Jones

Ma’a Tanuvasa

Because of the edge rusher designation that has taken hold in this era, I thought it best to blend these two positions.

Jackson was one of the original Ring of Famers and it’s a shame his career statistics are a bit clouded by history. Sports Illustrated’s Gary Zimmerman called Tombstone Jackson “perhaps the finest overall defensive end and pass rusher” he ever saw. No small praise.

One omission that really surprised me if only because he was #4 on my list was Elvis Dumervil. 2006 was probably the first year I really obsessed over the NFL draft and I thought “Doom” would be a 4th round steal after notching 20 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss and 10 forced fumbles (that last stat remains the best single season mark in NCAA history). Of course, he was mostly remember coming out because Marcus Vick stomped on him in the 2006 Gator Bowl. He was also dismissed because of his 5’11 height. It didn’t take him long to silence the doubters with 8.5 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries as a rookie. While his Broncos career ended in a Fax gaffe that’s still odd with hindsight, I’ll best remember him for his 63.5 sacks and 16 forced fumbles.

Defensive Back

Champ Bailey

Chris Harris

Steve Atwater

Darian Stewart

Dennis Smith

Steve Foley

John Lynch

Aqib Talib

Louis Wright

Darrent Williams

Brian Dawkins

Another name I had trouble leaving off my own list was Champ Bailey. I still think he got robbed of Defensive Player of the Year in 2006 by Jason Taylor. Champ finished the year with 10 picks, which remains tied for the highest total in NFL history since 1981.


Tom Rouen

Jason Elam

Rich Karlis

Did you know Jason Elam has written four books?

And now for my top three:

Your Broncos Links

Pat Bowlen: Winning legacy of late Denver Broncos owner |

Since Bowlen purchased the team in 1984, the Broncos have had as many Super Bowl appearances as losing seasons (7) and Bowlen became the first owner in league history to reach 300 wins in his first 30 seasons.

I’m left with this question: Why isn’t he enshrined already?

When a Denver Broncos call to the Hall comes too late - Mile High Report

So why did his acknowledgement lag behind Bobby Beathard and Jerry Jones? Did Jerry have 30 years of unparalleled success with Dallas? Did Beathard father multiple billion-dollar NFL institutions? Compare their resumes to Pat Bowlen and tell me how they deserved their moment more than a dying man who did so much more for the league then they ever did.

Pat Bowlen Era All-Broncos Team |

In 1984, Pat Bowlen and his siblings bought the Denver franchise and would lead the Broncos to become one of the winningest teams in NFL history. Under Bowlen, the Broncos won three Super Bowls and seven AFC championships. They produced Hall of Fame players like Champ Bailey, Gary Zimmerman and Terrell Davis. Below is a team fielded of notable Broncos who played or coached during the Pat Bowlen era (since 1984).

NFL Throwback: Top 5 Broncos moments in the Pat Bowlen era

Take a look back at some of the greatest moments in Broncos history under Owner Pat Bowlen.

John Elway: Pat Bowlen’s shoes will never be filled – ProFootballTalk

“He was a tremendous mentor to me and a tremendous friend. Pat was a great listener, always asking what was going on, and I learned so much from watching him. He was a terrific leader. Whether things were going right or things weren’t going right, he would always let you know what we needed to get better. He did a great job of applying pressure at the right times but always trusted his football people to make the right decisions. Other than his family, nothing meant more to Pat than making sure the Denver Broncos were successful. What he did for this team, this city and the entire NFL will never be matched. His shoes will never be filled. I will miss Pat greatly and will always treasure the times we had together. We’ll continue to take care of his team as if he were here today. My deepest sympathies are with Annabel and the entire Bowlen family.”

Peyton Manning: It was an honor to play for Bowlen -

”It was an honor to play for Mr. Bowlen’s organization, as I’ve said numerous times. I always had great respect for the Denver Broncos during my time playing for the Colts competing against his organization. So much of that credit goes to Pat Bowlen and his desire to be the best and to win. That had a lot to do with me signing with the Denver Broncos -- that I knew Mr. Bowlen was all about winning and I knew the people that he had hired would carry on that tradition and legacy. It was a great decision to come play here -- we still live here today. I’m grateful for Mr. Bowlen and the legacy that he’s established with the Broncos, in the NFL and certainly in this Denver community. He will be missed by many. It was an honor to know Mr. Bowlen and a real pleasure to have played for his team -- the Denver Broncos.”

Joe Douglas: Why he took the New York Jets GM job |

But Brittany Bowlen’s focus on and drive towards filling her father’s shoes, eventually, has at least created the perception that this is more “when” than “if”. And whenever it does happen, she’ll have some big shoes to fill.

2019 Denver Broncos roster review: Edge Bradley Chubb - Mile High Report

The second-year player has the potential to make a huge impact in Vic Fangio’s defense this season.

2019 Denver Broncos roster review: Left tackle Garett Bolles - Mile High Report

Are the conditions finally right for Garett Bolles to move into the upper tier of NFL left tackles?

2019 Denver Broncos roster review: UDFA Offensive Lineman Ryan Crozier - Mile High Report

Can rookie Ryan Crozier provide depth behind Connor McGovern for the Denver Broncos?

The NFL’s 11 best edge defenders

If Miller was just a speed guy, his effectiveness would start to wane at this point in his career. It’s a testament to his complete skill set that he’s just as good as he’s ever been.

Projecting 2019’s Most Valuable Denver Broncos - Mile High Report

It’s all projection ‘til someone gets hurt. Or benched.

NFL Links

FMIA Guest: PFF On How Data Is Changing NFL’s Present And Future – ProFootballTalk

If you’re looking for a quick intro into PFF’s biggest stories of the offseason, PFT has you covered. Coverage is more important than Pass Rush, Passer Rating from a clean pocket > under pressure, Pressure > sacks. It’s all here.

If NFL minicamps are important, why skip the last day? |

Is it time to cancel fun, or time to admit that these practices aren’t as crucial as they’re made out to be?

My opinion: it isn’t either/or: building chemistry is an important part of team building and does not always involve strictly football.

Julio Jones among top five NFL players who SHOULD get paid -

”Playing nickel corner takes special skills,” a former NFL defensive coordinator recently told me. “You need the quickness and agility to handle shifty slot receivers while working through all kinds of traffic over the middle of the field. You also need to be tough enough to handle the run support duties when teams attempt to run the ball against a light box. ... Some scouts view it as a ‘throwaway’ position or a stash spot for little guys, but most defensive coaches will tell you the nickel corner should be the most complete defensive back on the team.”

The future of NFL defenses could end the pass rush vs. coverage debate

Pass rush or coverage? A defensive tactic popularized by LSU, which could be making its way to the NFL, gives defenses the both.

Inside the short, unhappy life of the Alliance of American Football

Interviews with more than 40 senior AAF executives, lawyers, consultants, team presidents, coaches, players and other sources show the league began imploding even before the first game kicked off.

2019 NFL MVP candidates: Patrick Mahomes ready to repeat? -

Will Patrick Mahomes win back-to-back MVP awards? Can Philip Rivers notch a career first? Adam Schein presents his top nine (early!) candidates for MVP in the 2019 NFL season.

Time is now for Chargers’ Mike Williams ‘to step up’ -

With the departure of wide receiver Tyrell Williams, Los Angeles wideout Mike Williams is poised and in place to take a huge step forward in the Chargers’ offensive plans.

Lamar Jackson admits he “wasn’t in command” at times last year – ProFootballTalk

“Yeah, because last year there were games when I wasn’t in command,” Jackson said. “I’d come in last year kind of nervous, because there are grown men looking at you, depending on you to help them feed their family.

Why aren’t the Texans hiring a G.M.? – ProFootballTalk

Why did the Texans interview Ray Farmer and Martin Mayhew?