Gary Zimmerman just entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2008.
The class of 2009 has seven former Broncos among the 133 players, coaches and contributers who make up the preliminary list of nominees for election to the Hall of Fame’s newest class.
Former Denver Broncos S Steve Atwater (1989-98), RB Terrell Davis (1995-2002), LB Tom Jackson (1973-86), LB Karl Mecklenburg (1983-94), Head Coach Dan Reeves (1981-92), TE Shannon Sharpe (1990-99, 2002-03) and CB Louis Wright (1975-86) are the Broncos who made the preliminary list of modern-era nominees.
Sharpe is one of 11 first-year eligible nominees for election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, meaning this is the first year he met all of the requirements for induction — meaning he’s been retired at least five years.
From this preliminary list of nominees, Hall of Fame selectors will choose 25 candidates who will advance as semifinalist nominees. The list of 25 semifinalists will be announced later next month.
The semifinalists list will be reduced by a mail ballot to 15 finalists.
The final list of nominees that will be considered for election will consist of the 15 modern-era finalists and the two previously announced senior nominees, Bob Hayes and Claude Humphrey. Hayes and Humphrey were selected this past August by the Hall of Fame’s Senior Selection Committee.
The Class of 2009 will be selected from the list of 17 finalists (15 modern-era and two senior nominees). The actual voting will be conducted at the Hall of Fame Selection Committee’s annual meeting, which will be held on Saturday, January 31, 2009, in Tampa, Florida the day before Super Bowl XLIII. The election results will be announced immediately after the meeting at a press conference in the media headquarters. While there is no set number for any class of enshrinees, the ground rules provide that between four and seven new members will be selected.
There are four players in the Hall of Fame who have played for the Broncos at one point in their careers. John Elway and Zimmerman are two. Tony Dorsett finished his career with the Broncos, and Willie Brown began his career in Denver, rounding out the four inductees.
Stay tuned as the list is whittled down — and DenverBroncos.com will certainly keep you up to date.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com