I’m a homer. I admit it. I’m a Denver Broncos fan. I bleed orange and blue. Today, I’m red, as in angry.
My home team bias aside, the latest in a long list of Hall of Fame snubs is ridiculous. The Broncos had three players in the final ten: Terrell Davis, Steve Atwater and John Lynch. Six of the ten were voted in. All three were left out. Again.
The Denver Broncos play in their record-tying eighth Super Bowl today. Only six men who have played for the team are in the Hall. One of those, Tony Dorsett, played the bulk of his career for Dallas, and in Denver for a single, forgettable year. He doesn’t count.
Only three of the remaining five, Floyd Little, John Elway and Shannon Sharpe spent the bulk of their careers with Denver. Gary Zimmerman and Willie Brown had productive years here, but spent most of their playing careers on other teams.
How does a team that has been to the Super Bowl more than all but two other teams have so few inductees in the Hall? The Kansas City Chiefs, with three AFC championships and a single Super Bowl victory, have 18 (including Joe Montana and Mike Webster, who were short-term add-ons at the end of their careers). The Oakland Raiders, with five AFL/AFC championships and three Super Bowl victories during their glory years, have an astounding 26 in the Hall (Eric Dickerson, Ron Mix and Rod Woodson were late-career rentals). The San Diego Chargers, who have been to the big dance only once and lost, have an even dozen, ten of whom count (John Mackey and Johnny Unitas played there for a year).
All three of this year’s finalists were worthy and may eventually get in, but the list of those continually left out of the conversation is galling. How do Randy Gradishar, Tom Jackson, Louis Wright, Rod Smith, Karl Mecklenburg, Goose Gonsoulin, Lionel Taylor, Rich Jackson and Dan Reeves, to name a few of the most deserving, not have a bust in Canton?
And the voters didn’t take the opportunity to honor Pat Bowlen, one of the most respected and successful owners in league history, while he was still capable of accepting and appreciating it.
That may be the Hall’s biggest crime of all.