Denver Broncos: 2019 Hall of Fame should have orange theme
The Denver Broncos are one of the NFL’s great organizations but are extremely under-represented when it comes to the Hall of Fame.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has no obligation to include every great Denver Broncos player, coach, or executive, but they do have an obligation to recognize the people who have a profound impact on the sport.
It’s for that reason, not the former but the latter, that the Denver Broncos have a significant gripe when it comes to their representation in the Hall of Fame.
The team has as many Super Bowl appearances (eight) as they do busts in Canton, OH. Some of the players that went in spent just a short amount of time with the Broncos, too. Of the Broncos’ eight Hall of Famers, only four (John Elway, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, and Floyd Little) played all or the majority of their career in Denver.
The annual Hall of Fame voting and induction process is typically a huge slap in the face to the entirety of Broncos Country; players, coaches, executives, fans, and the team’s legendary owner Pat Bowlen included.
That is all set to chance with the Hall of Fame’s class of 2019 as the Broncos have a number of candidates up for induction this year who seem to be much stronger candidates than others in years past.
Pat Bowlen, Owner
Pat Bowlen seems like a virtual lock to get into the Hall of Fame in 2019 as a contributor, and simply calling him a ‘contributor’ to the NFL seems like a gross understatement.
Forget just the game of football, the Denver Broncos under Bowlen’s ownership have been one of the most prosperous organizations in all of professional sports.
The Broncos have won three NFL titles in Bowlen’s reign of the team, and have the fifth-best winning percentage (.598) among all professional sports teams since 1984.
In case you’re new to Broncos fandom and wondered why everyone always has such high expectations for the team, that’s exactly why. Bowlen established a culture and expectation of winning in the Mile High City.
Steve Atwater, Safety
There are only 26 defensive backs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but the Broncos are going to look to add to that number by about 10 percent this year, starting with Steve Atwater.
Atwater was a rare breed at the safety position, a first-round pick out of Arkansas in the 1989 NFL Draft and an eight-time Pro Bowl player thereafter.
Atwater was a 6-foot-3, 220 pound safety, built like a missile to seek and destroy anyone who touched the football.
He’s credited with 1,180 career tackles and you can be certain the players he hit back in the 90s still remember it to this day.
Atwater is the true embodiment of a throwback safety, a player who inflicted pain and did so instinctively and by playing clean football.
Champ Bailey, Cornerback
It’s said that 72 percent of the earth is covered by water, and the rest is covered by Champ Bailey.
Bailey — a former first-round draft pick of the Washington Redskins out of Georgia — was acquired by the Denver Broncos in a trade for running back Clinton Portis in 2004.
Bailey picked off 21 passes in his first three seasons with the Broncos, including 18 over the course of the 2005 and 2006 seasons. In 2006, Bailey was robbed of a Defensive MVP award as he completely dominated games, shutting down his side of the field and picking off passes when quarterbacks dared to throw the ball his direction.
Bailey was such a great athlete, he even got some looks on offense both in Washington and in Denver.
A complete player if there ever was one who could have played offense if that were his full-time job, Bailey was a star cornerback who could hit, return kicks or punts, and play the ball as well as anyone you will ever see.
More than that, Bailey was a player who cared about leaving a legacy. He took Chris Harris Jr. under his wing at the end of his time in Denver and showed him how to excel as a professional football player over the long haul.
He finished his NFL career with 903 tackles, 202 pass breakups, and 52 interceptions. Bailey should be a first-ballot Hall of Fame player without question.