Good morning, Broncos Country!
The start of the 2021 Denver Broncos season is almost upon us.
But before we get there, there’s always a fun debate that pops up around the Broncos and the Ring of Fame. Over the last few weeks, Denver has held “Zoom” news conferences with recent players inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When it comes to Peyton Manning, also his induction in the Broncos’ Ring of Fame. I’m sure former coach Mike Shanahan will happen in the next few weeks.
The debate is which players are the most under-appreciated in team history.
There have been some great pieces on this site and others to go over the list.
In recent history, there’s no doubt it’s Demaryius Thomas. He’s one of the best receivers in Broncos’ history. Period. Thomas is heading to the Ring of Fame, but what he’s done isn’t fully appreciated by some. And it’s namely because of the drops. However, that doesn’t change the fact he’s still one of the best receivers in team history. Full stop.
To steal a line from Mick Foley, cheap plug time. BreakingT has an awesome shirt that pays tribute to DT.
The new Demaryius Thomas “To the House” shirt is officially licensed by the NFLPA. Get on that.
OK, back on track.
Instead of going through player by player who is under-appreciated, I’ll go with one who is the most controversial.
Lyle Alzado should be in the Broncos’ Ring of Fame. It’s been long enough. I’ve written and talked about Alzado in the past, and I’ll continue to beat this drum until it happens.
But it’s not just because of what he did on the field to lead the franchise to its first Super Bowl as the face of the Orange Crush. Alzado also did it off the field in the community.
This great career overview piece from the team website quotes former Denver Post writer Dick Connor:
“There were hours of unpublicized visits to local hospitals, schools, kids,” Connor wrote in 1979. “I had one hospital official tell me once that they had invited a lot of athletes to come out over the years. ‘Lyle’s the only one that comes without being asked. He just shows up.’”
The piece then goes through the numerous contributions, donations and visits that were documented in The Post. They’re all linked in that piece.
- The 1975 fundraiser to help 52 children get the funding needed to compete in the International Special Olympics.
- A visit to Children’s Hospital to help out at a Halloween party.
- The time he visited a class and offered to pay for two tickets to any Broncos game for students who raised their grades by two letter grades in at least three of their classes. The piece adds that if the whole group did it, he promised to charter a bus to Fort Collins for a day at Broncos training camp.
The one aspect that people hold onto when it comes to Alzado is the steroids, and I totally understand why. It was cheating and there are some things you can’t let pass. In my view, he lost his life because of it and it’s time to let bygones be bygones. It’s also been close to 30 years. It’s all part of who Alzado is. It also doesn’t change the fact he was one of the best and most influential players in Broncos’ history. And for that, he’s the most under-appreciated in history.
As former Denver linebacker Randy Gradishar said in 1992 after Alzado’s death, quoted in the piece at the team website:
“Lyle lived in the fast lane. He played football in the fast lane. He lived his personal life in the fast lane. He did all his community and charity work in the fast lane. He was always a risk taker.
“He was a scrapper and a survivor kind of guy. That was certainly atypical from my upbringing. I don’t know if Lyle ever turned down a chance to go somewhere to help people, whether it be a kid or a senior citizen. He had that side of him, too.”
Joe Rowles joined Klahr and Kompany on Saturday morning for the weekly Broncos Blast segment. This week, with me as guest co-host, the guys go through Denver’s position groups and the ones that are playoff caliber with training camp set to begin.
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