Mike Shanahan coached the Denver Broncos for 21 seasons (14 as head coach). There’s a lot obviously a lot to thank the man for including two Super Bowl wins.
Even though he was fired in 2008, the city and the team still holds him in high regard. Who plays a tribute video for a coach that was fired? That’s just how much he’s done for the Broncos.
In terms of the current roster, there are a few of “Shanahan’s guys” still remaining, and they play a very important role in the product we see out on the field today.
Shanahan drafted Chris Kuper in 2006 and the starting right guard allowed just 12 sacks in 78 career starts prior to the 2013 season. He was invited to the Pro Bowl as an alternate after the 2012 season even though he played in just seven games.
Shanahan also selected left tackle Ryan Clady with the first round pick in the 2008 draft. Clady was just the fourth offensive lineman in league history to start every game and make three Pro Bowls in his first five NFL seasons prior to this season.
We can thank Shanahan for luring the most loyal Denver Bronco, Champ Bailey, to Denver in 2004. There isn’t much to say about all of his accomplishments other than he’s a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer.
Shanahan believed in undrafted college free agent linebcaker Wesley Woodyard enough to sign him. He’s been a team captain in each of his six seasons with the Broncos, and he led the team in tackles last season.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Shanahan,” Woodyard said after Wednesday’s practice. “He was a guy that gave me my first chance to play in the NFL…He was one of those guys that always kept it straightforward. He never ‘B.S.’d’ anybody. He always told you exactly what you wanted to hear from a head coach. He never cut you short on anything.”
The first summer Woodyard was on the team, he got to see just how “straightforward” Shanahan was.
“We had our workout and he called out a couple of our best players on the team at the time,” Woodyard said. “To see that coming from a head coach, you know he had a lot of respect from the players on that team and from the community, the city, as well.”
Finally, kicker Matt Prater is another one of Shanahan’s guys. Prater came to the Broncos when legendary kicker Jason Elam was still on the team, but Shanahan kept him around.
“I’m definitely thankful and grateful to him,” Prater. “He gave me a great opportunity to play for a great organization. I’m happy to still be around.”
Prater was on the Dolphins’ practice squad at the time, but since then he’s ranked second in franchise history in field goal accuracy.
So thank you, Mike Shanahan, for keeping the winning tradition alive. Your coaching legacy lives on and Broncos Country will never forget what you did for the franchise. Hopefully, you’ll feel that before the game on Sunday.