As I watch the Pro Football Hall of Fame Ceremony, my emotions are spilt. On the one hand, I love watching it because of the raw emotion and it kicks off another football season. The stories, the memories and the tears are something that I look forward to every August.
On the other hand, as a fan of the Denver Broncos, it angers me. It angers me because the Broncos are so grossly underrepresented in Canton, OH.
Since 1970, the Broncos rank fourth in number of wins. They have won seven AFC Championships and two World Championships. They level of success does not happen by accident, it happens because of great players and great coaches.
Terrell Davis only played for seven seasons but for four of those years, he was the best player in football. It’s not the Hall of I played a long time, it’s the Hall of Fame. You cannot talk about the late 1990’s in the NFL without mentioning Davis, and that’s the mark of a guy who belongs.
Davis won a league MVP, a Super Bowl MVP, ran for 2,000 yards and dominated in the 1998 playoffs. It’s an absolute joke that Davis is not in the Hall of Fame.
Andre Reed was enshrined on Saturday night and deservedly so, but Smith is in Reed’s class and was every bit as important to the Broncos as Reed was to the Buffalo Bills.
History looks back with reverence on the career of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, Jack Lambert. However, Randy Gradishar was a flat better player. There are two things working against Gradishar; he played for the Broncos and he only played 10 years.
Lambert was the face of that great Steelers defense that led them to four Super Bowl victories. Gradishar played for the Broncos at a time when not every game was on TV everywhere, and the Broncos were not a household team.
There was no better linebacker in short yardage and he was in on seemingly every tackle. Like Lambert, Gradishar was the leader of a great defense in the 1970’s and the time has come to put him where he belongs.
Louis Wright was a teammate of Gradishar’s in the 1970’s and 80’s, and was a lock down cornerback before anyone knew what that term meant. Defensive coordinator Joe Collier simply did not have to worry about one side of the field because Wright would take it away.
I watch some of these cornerbacks go into the Hall of Fame and think to myself; they are not even in the same class as Wright.
Then there’s the case of Dan Reeves, the Broncos long time head coach. Over the course of his career, Reeves led two teams to four Super Bowls combined and countless winning seasons. Marv Levy and Bud Grant are celebrated for guiding their teams to four Super Bowls only to lose, but that seems to be held against Reeves.
There was even an article the other day suggesting that Marty Schottenheimer should be in the Hall of Fame. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with the notion, but Reeves better go in long before Schottenheimer. It’s true that Reeves never won a Super Bowl but Schottenheimer never even got to one.
Reeves will enter the Broncos Ring of Fame in September and if there’s any justice, it won’t be the last enshrinement ceremony he attends.
It’s getting more and more difficult to believe there is not a bias against the Broncos when it comes to the Hall of Fame. How else do explain the fact that the Broncos are one of the most successful teams in NFL history, and still only have four players in the Hall of Fame?
It’s a great time of year; the ceremony is must watch TV for football fans, there’s an actual game on Sunday and the Broncos play on Thursday. However, there’s always a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth because the Broncos are so poorly represented in football heaven.
On a closing note; I ask my fellow Broncos’ fans to join me in begging the selection committee and the NFL to get Pat Bowlen in the Hall of Fame next year! He deserves it and he deserves to be a part of it. The Hall of Fame has ignored the Broncos for too long but they can go a long way in correcting that by putting Bowlen where he belongs; the Pro Football Hall of Fame!