The defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos are still riding miles high from this past season’s victorious ending.
The Super Bowl 50 win brought the “Orange Crush” it’s third Lombardi Trophy in team history. Overall in their 55 seasons of pro football, the Broncos have also won 8 AFC Championships, 15 Division titles, and made the playoffs 22 times.
The organization is as accomplished, or more than, many of the franchises that have been around twice as long as they have. And, the following four guys are most responsible for that.
- No owners, unless they were also coaches, and their place on this list is based on their contributions as coach. No General Managers or Personnel executives. Just those who directly affected the games on Sunday. I will make a separate list for those contributors soon.
- Key contributors to the team’s history and success, not just fan favorites or box office draws.
- Can you tell the franchise’s story without them? If no, they’re on the list.
John Elway (1983-1999 as player; 2011-present as GM & VP of football operations) is by far the most recognized and beloved Bronco in team history. He’s the team’s all-time leader in wins (148), passing yards (51,475), which is 4th in NFL history, passing touchdowns (300), completions (4,123) and attempts (7,250). The 9-time Pro Bowl and 3-time All-Pro selection led Denver to 2 Super Bowl Championships (XXXII, XXXIII) and 5 AFC Championship titles, he’s added another Super Bowl (50) trophy and 2 more AFC Championship titles to his resume as the General Manager and Vice President of Football Operations with the franchise, although his place was solidified due to his playing career. The 1987 NFL MVP was MVP of Super Bowl XXXIII and is a member of the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade team, the Broncos Ring of Honor and has his jersey number 7 retired by the team. In 2004, Elway was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Terrell Davis (1995-2001) didn’t have the longest career in the NFL compared to many greats I’ve mentioned on other team’s Mount Rushmore, but his impact was extremely significant to Denver’s history. Plus, many make it clear to mention, Elway never won a Super Bowl without T.D. Davis is the Broncos all-time leader in rushing yards (7,607), rushing touchdowns (60) and rushing attempts (1,655). He helped the Broncos win 2 Super Bowl titles (XXXII, XXXIII) and was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXII. The 6th round draft pick won NFL MVP in 1998, the same season he surpassed the 2,000 yard rushing mark. #30 was a 3-time Pro Bowl and 3-time All-Pro selection, a member of the NFL 1990’s All-Decade and Broncos 50th Anniversary Teams. He is one of only six players to rush for more than a 1,000-yards (1,140) in the postseason, and he’s the only one to do it and play less than 12 seasons.
Mike Shanahan (1995-2008) is the Broncos all-time leader in wins by a coach with 138. He led the Broncos to their first 2 Super Bowl victories (XXXII, XXXIII) and the playoffs 7 times during his tenure. The team set the NFL record for most victories (46-10) in a three-year period until his leadership.
Karl Mecklenburg (1983-1994) is one of the stars of Denver’s original “Orange Crush” defense that helped the Broncos win 3 AFC Championships (1986, 1987, 1989). He finished his career as the second all-time leading sacker in team history, and was a 6-time Pro Bowl and 4-time All-Pro selection. Mecklenburg was inducted into the Broncos Ring of Honor in 2001.
There you have it Broncos Country. Did I get it right? If not, who should be here instead? Shannon Sharpe? Rod Smith? Tom Jackson? Or Champ Bailey? Let me hear from you.