The Denver Broncos proudly added another member to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when tackle Gary Zimmerman took his place among the all-time greats in the 2008 induction ceremonies.
As is usually the case, the festivities were spectacular, the ceremony was long, the emotions ran high, and I was reminded once again as I was fortunate enough to watch Gary enter the Hall after being presented by Broncos owner Pat Bowlen–this never gets old.
This was the third time that I have been fortunate enough to actually attend the induction ceremony, including four years ago when John Elway became the first inductee to have played his entire career as a member of the Broncos.
It is an honor to watch the ceremony, which the Hall of Fame does a great job coordinating on behalf of the players and a national television audience.
Every player who stands on that stage deserves it, but it also serves to remind us of the many others who could legitimately join them, including Broncos such as Randy Gradishar and Floyd Little (both veterans committee candidates at this time), Karl Mecklenburg, and Louis Wright, to mention the most obvious.
And next year, tight end Shannon Sharpe is eligible for the first time.
Who the next Bronco inducted will be is anybody’s guess, but it is clear that after so many years of being ignored the Broncos now are making serious inroads as a franchise in Hall of Fame membership.
Sharpe, by the way, retired as the all-time pro football leader in receptions, yards, touchdowns, Super Bowl wins and Pro Bowl appearances among all the tight ends who have ever played, including those who have already been honored with a Hall pass.
So he would not be a bad guess, but let’s not forget about the possibility of the Hall fo Fame Veterans Committee possibly coming up with Little or Gradishar as a nominee for 2009.
Either way, the Hall of Fame induction weekend couples with the game itself to kick off the NFL season, and I think we are all ready for some football!