Denver Broncos: Should Aqib Talib be inducted into the Ring of Fame?

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 17: Cornerback Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos runs an interception back for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth quarter of a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 17, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 17: Cornerback Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos runs an interception back for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth quarter of a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 17, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

In the class of 2021, the Denver Broncos’ Ring of Fame had a lone inductee, Peyton Manning.

Denver Broncos, Aqib Talib
DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 13: Cornerback Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos celebrates with cornerback Chris Harris #25 after returning an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter of a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 13, 2015, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) /

Unanimously selected, PFM brought the totality of the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame inductees to a total of 35. With his obvious election, it has left Broncos Country asking themselves, “who the 36th inductee will be?”

While he doesn’t have to be the 36th Denver Bronco selected into the Ring of Fame, a former member of the No Fly Zone, Aqib Talib,  should be among the next group that warrants the glorious honor.

On the day of March 11th, 2014, former New England Patriot, Aqib Talib, signed a massive six-year deal worth up to $57 million with the Denver Broncos. This day I still remember vividly, I was thrilled with the signing by former general manager, John Elway.

As someone who endears elite cornerback play, this addition made me relish.

Post Super Bowl 48, Broncos Country knew what an elite secondary could do to an even elite offense. In one of the more horrific nights of my life, the Legion of Boom completely dismantled the Denver Broncos attack that featured some established playmakers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.

Having a secondary befuddle a mastermind like Peyton Manning brought a feeling of envy.

Quickly after the dominant performance by the Seattle Seahawks, led by their top-tier secondary, Elway sat back and thought, I have to get me one of those! In efforts to shore up the back end and create the same problems for opposing offenses, Elway signed DeMarcus Ware to pair with Von Miller, TJ Ward, to pair with Darian Stewart, and Aqib Talib, to pair with Chris Harris Jr.

In 2013, the Denver Broncos secondary was decent, but it certainly was not the No Fly Zone. So, what was the bonding element that brought a decent secondary to a first-class unit?

Talib, that was the element.

Undervalued and underappreciated, Talib gets overlooked quite often due to playing alongside obvious future Ring of Famer, Chris Harris Jr. Yes, Harris was a baller, but Talib brought something to this secondary that it needed, grit.

In his brief four-year stint with the Broncos, we saw Talib snatch chains, set tones in important games, ala Super Bowl 50, and back up every single one of his teammates.

Most people remember his collection of gold, via Micheal Crabtree, but honestly, who could forget that? Not only did Talib snatch from the opposition, but it was also the Oakland freaking Raiders.

That wasn’t the only instance that Talib got involved in while he was a Denver Bronco. One of my favorite memories was Talib’s immediate defense of then-teammate, Chris Harris Jr.

During a game, late in December of 2016, against the Tennesse Titans, former wide receiver Harry Douglas took an egregious cheap shot at Chris Harris Jr. When I say a cheap shot, I mean a cheap shot. In efforts to “cut” block Harris, Douglas clearly attacked the front side of Harris’ knee, slamming the door open for a knee injury.

Quickly after, an expected skirmish began to unfold. In the center of the heated battle was Talib, the ultimate teammate. Shortly after the game in an interview, Talib called Douglas out and even flat out threatened to “beat his a**,” when he saw him in Atlanta.

What was unique about this situation was Talib and Douglas actually shared an agent at the time, so I am sure their agent had fun dispursing the feud. As a former football player, having teammates who will come to your immediate defense can not be overstated.

Having a guy like Talib on your team makes you feel comfortable in knowing that your brother, your teammate out there, has your back. But wait, there’s more!

Remember early in Super Bowl 50, when the Carolina Panthers were actually driving downfield successfully? Do you remember who showed up and made an illegal, but aggressive play to get this defense going?

If you guessed Talib, then you are correct.

During a reception by Corey “Philly’ Brown, Talib’s emotions took over, and on what was not that costly of a penalty, face masked Brown and set the tone. I’m not sitting here saying, “Hey, go hurt someone,” but Talib knew his teammates, and knew they needed a spark.

In what was just a few extra yards tacked on to the play based on where the Panthers already had the ball, it turned out to be exactly what this Broncos team desired. That’s what leaders do, look at Nikola Jokic for example.

Both of these guys took the onus upon themselves to alter the flow and mood of big-time games, fortunately for Talib, it worked out. Leaders step up, leaders make plays, and when the time came, that is what Talib always did.

Not only was Talib a tone-setter on the field, but he was also an actual elite cornerback as well. Being aggressive alone doesn’t garnish mentioning of the Ring of Fame, but nabbing that was his play on the field, Talib has a case.

During his time with the Broncos, Talib hauled in 11 interceptions and brought an outstanding six of them back for touchdowns!

To have the house call your name six times in four years as a cornerback is nothing short of remarkable. Broncos Country remembers the touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns, but one game, in particular, stood out like a sore thumb in regards to Talib’s tenure with the Broncos.

In an early bout with the Detroit Lions in 2015, the Broncos traveled to Ford Field. With a daunting task ahead, Talib knew he would have to bring his A-game against now Hall of Famer, Calvin “Megatron” Johnson.

Nicknames like “Megatron” arent just given out, they’re given to people who are built like an unstoppable machine, ala, Calvin Johnson. What made this even more challenging was the scheme that Wade Phillips, former Broncos defensive coordinator, was running.

Having to line up across from Johnson, snap after snap, press after press, could be an abusive day for an outmatched cornerback. Most football fans have seen the jump ball, hail mary Esque, touchdown that Johnson hauled in against the Cincinnati Bengals.

It didn’t matter who or how many people were draped on Johnson at times, he was something the NFL had never dealt with before.

Guarding Johnson mono e mono sounds like a ridiculous, ignorant decision for anyone. Not if you were Talib.

In a battle back and forth, Johnson ended the day with eight receptions for 77 yards and zero touchdowns. That is a win for any cornerback who has to play Johnson one on one all game long, it doesn’t matter who the defender is.

During the game, Matthew Stafford did not shy away from Megatron, rightfully so, but Talib battled him on every single target. Although Johnson had 77 receiving yards, I can sit here and say Talib might have got the best of Johnson.

Many may argue that point with, “how could he have won the battle if Megatron still had 77 yards?” Well, if it were either of the other 99 percent of cornerbacks throughout the NFL and maybe even NFL history, Johnson could have amassed 200 yards and multiple touchdowns.

Talib brought a big-bodied, aggressive, and playmaking cornerback to a team that needed it. 2015 was a remarkable year for the Broncos defense. It is seen as one of the best units of all time.

None of that happens without Talib. Offensively, the Broncos were atrocious in 2015. This defense carried this team, and the No Fly Zone along with the pass rush flourished.

Talib changed not only the defense but the swagger and mentality of the team. He brought the much-needed “swagger.” that an already strong team desperately needed. Talib was the missing unit of this entire Broncos team.

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Without the confidence and elite play of Talib, I don’t know if we are sitting here today as champions in Super Bowl 50. While his tenure in the Mile High was brief, it meets the four-year requirement to be Ring of Fame Eligible.

His four years here were Ring of Fame worthy; so why is Talib not being talked about enough when it comes to the tremendous honor?

Could it be the loaded defense?

I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it is time for that to change. Talib very well should be a part of the Broncos Ring of Fame. In my honest, bold take, this franchise can not say it has three Lombardi’s if Talib does not sign with the Broncos in 2014.

Since becoming a fan of this historic franchise, Talib has been one of my favorite players to watch. This man played with so much emotion and so much passion. At times, I found myself wanting to jump through the screen and have Talib’s back.

Not every player brings that “real love and heart” to the game anymore, which is why Talib will always be a guy I respect. His passion was exuberant and it brought the Broncos to a new level.