By now just about everyone is aware that aside from John Elway — who was an obvious choice and who played for the Denver Broncos for the entirety of his 16-year NFL career — only two other players with Bronco ties are in the Hall of Fame.
Those would be running back Tony Dorsett — clearly in for his play with the Dallas Cowboys — and cornerback Willie Brown, who played the most famous part of his career with the Oakland Raiders, although he was also an All-AFL corner while with the Broncos.
After 30 years in the NFL I feel like I have been teased by the Hall of Fame voters more often than Charlie Brown by Lucy and her football in the Peanuts cartoon.
Nevertheless, this year the Broncos once again have representation on the early part of the balloting process.
The voters have whittled their initial choices down to 26, and they will choose the 2008 class — with a maximum of six entrants — from that group.
Of course, two of those six slots will likely be taken by veterans committee choices, with Floyd Little already having again beeen overlooked by that group.
So the three Broncos still standing are linebacker Randy Gradishar, running back Terrell Davis, and tackle Gary Zimmerman.
Each is worthy, but then so too is each of the other 23 candidates.
The next step in the process will be for the selectors to vote that 26-man group down to the final 15 (the current group is at 26 instead of 25 due to a tie).
If one or more of our three make it to the final 15, they or he will at least have accomplished the most basic element of candidacy by at least be represented in the room for discussion.
I have been teased too often by this group to have any real expectations, and if that seems negative, well, 30 years is a long time to be told, “Maybe next year.”
But at least the guy would be in the room, which means they have to discuss him.
And just like you can’t win a title if you don’t make the playoffs, you have to be in the conversation to have a shot.
So that’s a plus.
I have written tirelessly about the three players in question. Zimmerman as a two-time all-decade performer at left tackle (the 1980′s and the 1990′s, as voted by this same body); Gradishar is a seven-time Pro Bowl player who was the cornerstone on one of pro football’s greatest defenses, while Davis has near-legendary credentials.
Maybe this is the year.
I’m never going to stop saying that, even though year after year is another story, a different reason why this is not the year.
But this franchise has done its part.
The Broncos have the best home record in pro frootball from 1974-2007, and the franchise has gone to more Super Bowls than any other franchise with the exception of the Dallas Cowboys.
Gradishar, Davis, and Zimmerman.
Maybe this is the year that one of them breaks through.