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Dear Hall of Fame, this Broncos’ linebacker’s inclusion is long overdue

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And I mean, loooooooong overdue.

nlk

Hall of Fame-ness is in the air.

Terrell Davis recently, FINALLY, got his long overdue golden jacket.

The Contributors Committee will vote Friday and Pat Bowlen better be one of its two choices if the Pro Football Hall of Fame wants to keep any semblance of trust from Broncos fans that it understands the importance of this franchise to the success of the NFL.

But today, the Seniors Committee is debating - and one of the Broncos eligible is long overdue for his bust in Canton.

Randy Gradishar.

The linebacker’s importance to the Orange Crush defense was so immense that MHR voters elected Gradishar to our own Hall of Fame the first year it existed (and before we separated out early-era and modern-era players). That means, according to MHR, Gradishar is in the same league as John Elway, Terrell Davis and Floyd Little - a rather impressive list.

Then again, Gradishar was impressive.

A first-round draft pick in 1974, Gadishar was the 14th pick overall. He played alongside Tom Jackson, creating the "Orange Crush" defense that led the Broncos to their first Super Bowl appearance in the 1977-78 season.

During No. 53’s tenure with the Broncos, the "Orange Crush" allowed the third-fewest rushing yards in the NFL, behind only the Steelers’ "Steel Curtain" and the Cowboys' "Doomsday" defenses.

Gradishar played 10 seasons for the Denver Broncos and is considered one of the best defensive players in the team's history. In that time, he had 20 interceptions, three of which became touchdowns, as well as 13 fumble recoveries, one leading to a TD. Playing in an era that featured more running game, Gradishar’s turnover-causing stats are even more amazing.

The MHR member who nominated Gradishar for the Hall of Fame back in 2015 had this eloquent reasoning:

"For those lucky enough to see Randy Gradishar in his prime, you saw the epitome of an NFL player. He was better than his peers, including Jack Lambert, and often was recognized for this during his career.” - Gradishar53

Gradishar, a two-time finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was selected for seven Pro Bowls and was a five-time First Team All-Pro. He was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1978 and was inducted into the Broncos’ Ring of Fame in 1989, that year’s only selection.

Four years ago, BroncoMike (one of our own HOF writers) did some research on why Gradishar truly is deserving, even among the modern-era players.

And it’s glorious:

Stat

Randy Gradishar

Mike Singletary

Brian Urlacher

Ray Lewis

Seasons

10

12

13

17

Games

145

179

182

228

Tackles

2,049+

1,488

1,353

2,061

Avg/G

14.1

8.3

7.4

9.0

Interceptions

20

7

22

31

Avg/G

0.14

0.04

0.12

0.14

Fumble Rec.

13

12

15

20

Avg/G

0.09

0.07

0.08

0.09

Sacks

20.5*

19

41.5

41.5

Avg/G

0.14

0.10

0.22

0.18

Pro Bowls

7

10

8

13

All Pro

5

8

4

7

Other

DPOY 1978

DPOY 1985, 1988

DPOY 2005

DPOY 2000, 2003

As BroncoMike had noted from the stats above, only Ray Lewis has more total tackles than Gradishar.

And even then, Lewis played seven more seasons than his 1980s counterpart in order to edge him out by a meager 12 tackles. Gradishar also averaged five more tackles per game than his closest competitor.

Looking at turnovers, Gradishar joins Urlacher and Lewis in the “20 INT Club” while comparing very favorably to Mike Singletary and Urlacher. Lewis outgained him, but he had 83 more games to do it.

It’s ironic that both Lewis and Urlacher are eligible in 2018. Lewis is a sure first-ballot inductee while Urlacher has a good shot.

The late Pro Football Weekly personnel analyst Joel Buchsbaum wrote in 2002 of the travesty of not yet including Gradishar among the elite.

"Maybe the smartest and most underrated ever. Had rare instincts, was faster than Lambert and very effective in short-yardage and goal-line situations. The fact he is not in the Hall of Fame is a shame and may be attributed to the fact he was a sure tackler but not a lights-out hitter or look-at-me type of player."

Perhaps this year - with MHR’s help similar to its Terrell Davis campaign - the Senior committee will finally realize Gradishar is a “look-at-him” type of player.

But please let us know in the comments why we already know this :)

Poll

How likely is it that Randy Gradishar will be one of the two choices for Senior members in the Hall of Fame Class of 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    He has an outside shot
    (88 votes)
  • 43%
    I’m counting on MHR to push him through!
    (166 votes)
  • 30%
    The Pro Football Hall of Fame is dead to me
    (118 votes)
  • 3%
    "Shasta"
    (12 votes)
384 votes total Vote Now

More on Gradishar - docllv’s picks of the day

Randy Gradishar: HOF Credentials - Mile High Report
Frankly put, if Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis are HOF worthy, so is Randy Gradishar. Included are career comparisons of the production Gradishar, Singletary, Urlacher and Lewis had during their perspective careers.

Randy Gradishar should be the next Bronco to get into the Hall of Fame - Mile High Report This needs to change. It should come when the seniors committee meets in the next few months.