Today, the Seniors Committee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its nominees to be finalists for the 2008 Hall of Fame class. Neither of the two choices were Broncos; the nods went to 1940s standout Marshall Goldberg of the Chicago Cardinals and longtime Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Emmitt Thomas.
At one point in time, when the Broncos were still a fairly young franchise, the Seniors Committee discusion was largely irrelevant. But as the depth and breadth of Broncos history has increased, so too has the possibility of seeing a Broncos great among these nominees.
More and more ex-Broncos are eligible for Hall of Fame nomination from the Seniors Committee, since the standard for being in the Seniors discussion is to be 25 years removed from one’s playing career. That places Floyd Little, Rich “Tombstone” Jackson, Lionel Taylor and by next year Randy Gradishar — whose career ended in 1983 — as players who could conceivably enter the Hall through these doors.
In recent years, going from finalist-via-Seniors Committee to the Hall of Fame has been a virtual slam dunk. Since 1994, there have been 18 Seniors Committee finalists, and all but one was selected for enshrinement. (Incidentally, the exception was Bob Hayes in 2004.)
With Goldberg, I could get into the the fact that the Cardinals already have 11 Hall of Famers. One might counter that their history is more than twice as lengthy as that of the Broncos, when factoring in their pre-NFL years. Fine. But the 1970s Cardinals have three players who made the Hall of Fame for their accomplishments with that franchise.
Again, this is a team with zero playoff wins and only two postseason appearances in that 10-year span, and just one playoff win in the last 59 years. This is a team that deserves to have more players from one specific era than the entire span of Broncos history?
The selectors have seen fit to induct just one player for his accomplishments as a Bronco and two more who played in Denver, but made their HoF name elsewhere. It’s head-scratching to the point of drawing blood.
Then came today, when I saw a former Chief among the two seniors committee nominees. Since being a finalist through the seniors makes one a likely Hall of Fame choice, Thomas would become the ninth player to be enshrined in large part because of his accomplishments as a Chief.
And even if Thomas doesn’t make it, that’s eight for the Chiefs (Marcus Allen, Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Len Dawson, Lamar Hunt, Willie Lanier, Jan Stenerud and Hank Stram) and one for the Broncos (John Elway).
Of course, all this is not to denigrate Thomas, who was a splendid defender and then became an exceptional assistant coach in his own right. But another Chief in the Hall? When you consider the accomplishments of both franchises — which came into existence in the same year, 1960 — the disparity is nothing short of absurd.
Conference/AFL Championships: Denver 6, Kansas City 3
World Championships: Denver 2, Kansas City 1
Division Championships: Denver 10, Kansas City 8
Playoff Appearances: Denver 17, Kansas City 15
Winning Records: Denver 24, Kansas City 25
Overall Record: Denver 371-327-10 (.531), Kansas City 375-321-12 (.538)
Playoff Record: Denver 17-15, Kansas City 8-13
And I’m not going to even get into my own deep personal objections over Michael Irvin making the Hall of Fame before Art Monk. I don’t need to get any angrier. Matter of fact, I could use some lithium or a sedative right about now.
Anyhow, I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I had to get all that out in the open. Until next time, when I get back into writing about the Broncos of the present, vaya con Dios.
Tags: Hall of Fame