Steve Atwater falls in the same boat as John Lynch. He is a generational, hard-hitting safety that is not valued due to his position.
It’s unfortunate because Atwater was the linchpin of the Denver defense throughout the 1990’s. He was a model of consistency and dominance, only missing five games in his ten-year career. In that time he casually racked up eight Pro-Bowl honors, two First-Team All-Pro honors, and one Second-Team All-Pro honor.
One could say Atwater was the original John Lynch. A guy without the gaudy stats, but who passed the eye test game in and game out and was a winner. In eleven seasons, Atwater only produced 24 interceptions, but he also won two Super Bowls and was on nine teams with winning records.
Furthermore, the guy was a tackling machine with 1,180 tackles in his eleven seasons. He also managed to bring down the quarterback five times and force six fumbles. These numbers compare favorably to recently elected safety Brian Dawkins who played an additional five seasons.
Post-retirement, he has seen the accolades continue to come in being named to the NFL 1990’s All-Decade Team, being voted by the fans to the Denver Bronco’s 50th Anniversary Team and being elected into the Bronco’s Ring of Fame. The Hall of Fame, however, has yet to come.
Only time will tell if Atwater is finally recognized for his generational talent and what he did for the game of football, paving the way for feared, hard-hitting safety’s to roam the defensive backfield.