ESC Salutes the Denver Broncos' Ring of Fame

The Denver Broncos' Ring of Fame was inaugurated in 1984 to honor former players and administrators who have played significant roles in the franchise's history.
The Ring of Fame is displayed on the Level 5 facade of Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Additionally, in 2013, the “Ring of Fame Plaza” was unveiled at the south entrance to the stadium and features steel pillars honoring the Ring of Famers, each adorned with a bronze likeness of each individual's face. The players' names and uniform numbers as well as a plaque detailing their accomplishments sits underneath each bronze face.
The following are brief sketches of the twenty Ring of Fame members, in alphabetical order.

Stephen D. "Steve" Atwater
#27 - FS - 1989-1998 - Inducted: 2005

Steve Atwater concluded his brilliant 11-year NFL career as one of the most outstanding and most popular players in the history of the Denver Broncos organization. He joined the Broncos in 1989 as the club’s No. 1 draft choice (20th overall) and went on to earn eight Pro Bowl selections, second-most in team history. His string of seven straight Pro Bowl appearances from 1990-96 ties the franchise record. Atwater turned in one the best performances ever by a safety in a Super Bowl with his stellar play in Denver’s Super Bowl XXXII victory over Green Bay (1/25/98), posting six solo tackles, one sack, two passes defensed and a forced fumble. In addition to the eight Pro Bowls and two World Championships, Atwater will always be remembered for his signature hit on Kansas City running back Christian Okoye on Monday Night Football in 1990, the audio of which was captured by NFL Films and replayed numerous times over the years. Now residing in Maryland, Steve Atwater became the 20th member of the Ring of Fame on Sunday, October 9, 2005.

Atwater's Denver Broncos Career Record
24 398 16.6 1

Terrell L. Davis
#30 - RB - 1995-2001 - Inducted: 2007

Terrell Davis was inducted as the 21st member of the Ring of Fame in 2007 after establishing himself as the Denver Broncos’ all-time leading rusher while spending his entire eight-year career with the team from 1995-2002. Selected by the Broncos in the sixth round (196th overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft from the University of Georgia, Davis rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first four seasons, including the 1998 campaign in which he totaled the fourth-most rushing yards (2,008) in a season in NFL history to earn league MVP honors. That year, he also set a club record with 21 rushing scores. The three-time Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro selection (1996-98) finished his career with a franchise-record 7,607 rushing yards and 60 rushing touchdowns on 1,655 carries (4.6 avg.) in 78 regular-season games (77 starts) as a key member of the Broncos’ back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams (1997-98). His 97.5-yard rushing average in regular-season games is the third best in NFL history (min. 75 games), trailing only Pro Football Hall of Fame members Jim Brown and Barry Sanders. A semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2008, Davis owns three of the top-five single-season rushing outputs in Broncos annals as well as the club’s single-season scoring record (138 pts., 1998). In the postseason, Davis was equally as impressive, totaling at least 100 rushing yards in seven of his eight career playoff appearances, including his 157-yard, three-rushing touchdown performance against Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXII to earn game MVP honors. He averaged an NFL-record (min. 5 games) 142.5 rushing yards per game in the postseason for his career, totaling a club-record 1,140 rushing yards on 204 carries (5.6 avg.) with 12 touchdowns. Davis, who played his first collegiate season at Long Beach State before transferring to Georgia, ranks first in Broncos history in career 100-yard rushing games (41), first in rushing touchdowns (62), second in overall touchdowns (65) and second in yards from scrimmage (8,887). Now living in Los Angeles, Davis works as an analyst for NFL Network.

Davis' Denver Broncos Career Record
1,655 7,607 4.6 60

John A. Elway
#7 - QB - 1983-1998 - Inducted: 1999

John Elway capped his brilliant career in 1998 by winning Most Valuable Player honors in Super Bowl XXXIII, leading the Denver Broncos to their second straight World Championship. He also posted the highest quarterback rating of his career in his final campaign, with a rating of 93.0. At the close of the 1998 season Elway ranked second among active NFL players for number of appearances with one team (234), trailing only the Oilers' Bruce Matthews (248), and retired having played in and started (231) more games in more seasons (16) than any player in Denver Broncos history. Elway, the NFL's all-time winningest starting quarterback (148-82-1; .643), was voted to a franchise-record nine Pro Bowl appearances (1986 season, '87, '89, '91, '93, '94, '96, '97 and '98), tied for the most ever by a quarterback (Marino, Moon), and as a starter six times ('87, '89, '93, '96, '97 and '98). He was the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1987, AFC Player of the Year in 1993, was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week 15 times and AFC Offensive Player of the Month twice. Elway was named the Edge NFL Man of the Year for 1992, and was inducted in to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. He ranks second behind Miami's Dan Marino in most major NFL career passing categories, including passing yards (51,475), attempts (7,250), completions (4,123) and total offense (54,882). He also figures third in total touchdowns with 334 (300 pass./33 rush./1 rec.); third in passing touchdowns with 300 (behind Marino and Fran Tarkenton) and leads all NFL quarterbacks in career rushing attempts (774), while figuring fourth in rushing yards (3,407). Elway is the only player in NFL history to pass for over 3,000 yards and rush for over 200 yards in the same season for seven straight years (1985-91). He was responsible for 334 touchdowns (300 passing; 33 rushing and 1 receiving), third all-time, and generated 4,771 of the 5,806 points (82.2%) scored by the Broncos during his 16-year tenure with the club. Elway ranks No. 1 in NFL history in fourth-quarter, game-winning or game-saving drives with 47 (46-0-1 record), and had 36 career 300-yard passing games in the regular season, third among active quarterbacks at the time of his retirement (Marino, Warren Moon). He also caught three passes in regular season play for 61 yards, including a touchdown of 23 yards from Steve Sewell in 1986. In 1997 Elway broke his franchise record for consecutive passes without an interception, with the streak reaching 189. For his career, Elway had 19 games in which he completed 70% or more of his passes (min. 20 att.) and fashioned a 17-2 record in those games. He started 2,595 drives as a pro and was replaced just 10 times due to injury (.039%). On September 13, 1999, John Elway joined fellow Ring of Famers Floyd Little and Frank Tripucka as the third player in the teams' history to have his jersey number (7) retired. On August 8, 2004, he became the first career Bronco inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. John resides in the Denver area and remains active in the community as well as with several business ventures in which he is involved. He currently serves as Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Denver Broncos, being named to that position on Jan. 5, 2011.

Elway's Denver Broncos Career Record
7,250 4,123 51,475 56.9 300 226

Austin W. "Goose" Gonsoulin
#s 23/45 - S - 1960-1966 - Inducted: 1984

Austin "Goose" Gonsoulin was one of the four original Ring of Fame Members in 1984, recognized for his splendid play at safety for seven seasons. Gonsoulin was one of the original Broncos from the 1960 season. At the end of his Bronco career, he was the American Football League's all-time leader in interceptions with 43. His 11 pickoffs in 1960 are still a Denver club record, and he shares the team record for interceptions in a game with four, a feat that he accomplished on September 18th, 1960 at Buffalo. Gonsoulin was an All-AFL choice in 1960, 1962 and 1963. His amazing durability and toughness enabled him to start 61 consecutive games at one point in his career. Since his retirement, Gonsoulin has operated a construction company in Texas.

Gonsoulin's Denver Broncos Career Record
43 542 12.6 2

Randy C. Gradishar
#s 52/53 - LB - 1974-1983 - Inducted: 1989

Randy Gradishar was the only Ring of Fame inductee in 1989, in recognition of a 10-year career at linebacker with the Broncos. During his career, Gradishar was a 7-time Pro Bowler, the most by any Bronco to date, and he is also the all-time leader in tackles for Denver finishing with 1,958. Gradishar never missed a game, playing 145 consecutive. He accounted for 33 turnovers in his career (20 INTs and 13 fumble recoveries) and was voted the Defensive Player of the Year in 1978 by AP, UPI, Pro Football Weekly, and NEA (George Halas Award). His teammates also voted him defensive MVP in 1978 and 1980. Gradishar was the president of the Denver Broncos Youth Foundation from 1982 until 1992. In 1998 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and in 2002 was nominated as a finalist for selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Randy resides in Castle Rock, Colorado and currently serves as Leadership Manager for the Phil Long Dealerships.

Gradishar's Denver Broncos Career Record
Games Starts INT YDS AVG TD
145 134 20 335 16.8 3

Richard S. "Tombstone" Jackson
#87 - DE - 1967-1972 - Inducted: 1984

Rich Jackson is one of the four original Ring of Famers who were inducted in 1984. He was considered by many as the best defensive end in professional football during his prime. Jackson was the first Bronco to be named to the All-NFL first team in 1970. He posted his career high in quarterback sacks in 1969 with 11, and had 10 sacks in both 1968 and 1970. He was All-NFL in 1968 and 1969 in addition to starting the 1970 Pro Bowl. He made the Pro Bowl again in 1971 despite playing in only seven games due to a knee injury which eventually forced him out of football. Jackson played the first four games of the 1972 season with the Broncos before being traded to Cleveland for a 1973 third-round draft choice (Paul Howard). A devastating pass rusher, he utilized patented head-slap moves such as the "Halo Spinner" and finished his career with 43 sacks. Jackson currently resides in his hometown of New Orleans.

Thomas "Tom" Jackson III
#57 - LB - 1973-1986 - Inducted: 1992

Tom Jackson was the only player inducted into the Ring of Fame in 1992. "TJ" was always one of the most popular players among his teammates, who voted him most inspirational player six consecutive seasons (1981-'86). He finished his career having played the most games in Broncos history at 191 and still ranks second on that list behind John Elway. He is also tied for third in games started at 179. Jackson is one of only three Broncos to wear the Denver uniform for 14 season, joining John Elway and Dennis Smith. He made three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 1977-'79 and was named first team All-Pro twice (1977 & 1978). He was also named by his teammates as Denver's defensive MVP in 1974, '76 and '77. Upon his retirement in 1986, Jackson was tied for first with fellow Ring of Famer Randy Gradishar for the most interceptions in Broncos history by a linebacker with 20, and was fifth on the all-time sack list with 44. Jackson resides in Cincinnati, Ohio and is currently a football analyst and reporter for ESPN.

Jackson's Denver Broncos Career Record
Games Starts INT YDS AVG TD
191 179 20 340 17.0 3

Charles L. "Charley" Johnson
#12 - QB - 1972-1975 - Inducted: 1986

Charley Johnson was one of three inductees into the Ring of Fame in 1986, along with fellow quarterback Frank Tripucka and defensive lineman Paul Smith. Johnson, who came to Denver in a trade with Houston, quarterbacked the Broncos to their first winning season (7-5-2 in 1973), a landmark moment in the first 14 years of franchise history. Johnson set a new Bronco record for passing accuracy (since broken) in 1974 by completing 55.6% of his passes. He made the All-AFC team picked by UPI and Pro Football Weekly after the 1973 season. He once threw 445 yards in a game and also threw a touchdown pass in 10 consecutive games, a Broncos record at the time. Johnson has a Ph.D. and resides in Las Cruces, New Mexico where he retired as the head of the Chemical Engineering department at his alma mater, New Mexico State University.

Johnson's Professional Career Record
3,392 1,737 24,410 51.2 170 181

Floyd D. Little
#44 - RB - 1968-1975 - Inducted: 1984

Floyd Little is one of the four original Ring of Fame inductees from 1984. He was the first No. 1 draft pick ever signed by the Broncos and was widely regarded as "The Franchise" for much of his nine-year career. Little was the first serious threat for the Broncos at running back. A Pro Bowl participant from 1970-71 and in 1973, Little also twice played in the AFL All-Star game (1968 & '69). He finished his Broncos career ranked No. 1 on the franchise’s all-time list for rushing attempts (1,641), rushing yards (6,323), rushing touchdowns (43) and total touchdowns (54) and now ranks second in each behind Terrell Davis. Little, who at the time of his retirement ranked seventh in the NFL in career rushing, also finished his career ranked third on the Broncos' all-time scoring list with 324 points. He tallied a team record 12,173 all-purpose yards during his career, including a team-record 2,523 on kickoff returns. Little also holds the Broncos' record for the longest non-scoring kickoff return, of 89 yards (vs. Oakland, Nov. 10, 1968). Little led the NFL in rushing during the 1971 season with 1,133 yards after capturing the AFC rushing crown in 1970. Along with fellow Ring of Famers John Elway and Frank Tripucka, Floyd is one of three players in Broncos' history to have his jersey number (44) retired. After retiring from football, Floyd went into business for himself as owner of Ford automobiled dealerships Washington and California. In 2010, he became the second career Bronco inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In July 2011, Floyd returned to Syracuse University in the role of special assistant to the athletics director.

Little's Denver Broncos Career Record
1,641 6,323 3.9 43

Karl B. Mecklenburg
#s 77/92 - LB/DL - 1983-1994 - Inducted: 2001

Karl Mecklenburg joined the Ring of Fame in 2001 after establishing himself as one of the most outstanding defensive players in franchise history during his 12- year career (1983- 94). Mecklenburg overcame long odds to achieve greatness after being drafted by the Broncos in the 12th round out of Minnesota in 1983--the 310th player chosen. He became a starter by his third season, 1985, and went on to start 141 of the 180 games he played, which places him seventh on the club's all- time list for games played. Mecklenburg was voted to play in six Pro Bowls (following the 1985, '86, '87, '89, '91 and '93 seasons); was named All- AFC and All- NFL four times (1985- 87 and '89); was named AFC Player of the Year by Football News in 1986 and played in three Super Bowls as a Bronco: XXI, XXII and XXIV. He finished his career with 1,145 tackles (787 solo) and ranks second in club annals with 79.5 sacks, trailing only Simon Fletcher (97.5). Mecklenburg's career high of 13 sacks came in 1985 and ties for the fifth most sacks recorded by a Broncos player in a single season. He recorded 11 multi- sack games and is the only player in franchise history to record four sacks in a game twice in his career. He shares the franchise single- game record with four other players. Mecklenburg began his collegiate career at Augustana (SD) College before transferring to Minnesota, where he earned second- team All- Big Ten honors as a senior in 1982. Mecklenburg has been very active locally since his retirement in 1994. He coaches high school football on the staff at Kent Denver School, is a motivational speaker and does promotional work for several local businesses.

Mecklenburg's Professional Career Record
180 141 787 538 1,145 79.5 5 128 25.6 0

Larry "Craig" Morton
#7 - QB - 1977-1982 - Inducted: 1988

Craig Morton was one of three inductees in 1988, along with fellow teammates wide receiver Haven Moses and placekicker Jim Turner. Morton who came to the Broncos through a trade with the New York Giants in 1977, was Denver's starting quarterback for most of the period from 1975 to 1982 and led the team to its first Super Bowl berth in 1977, as he engineered the Broncos to a 12-2 regular season record and home playoff wins over Pittsburgh and arch-rival Oakland. Morton, who also starred with the Dallas Cowboys in the early 1970s, earned a variety of awards for his on-field performance in 1977, including AFC Most Valuable Player honors. During his career with Denver, he led the team to two divisional titles (1977 & 1978). He ranks second in all-time Broncos history in total plays from scrimmage (1,693), total offense (12,355), most passes attempted (1,594), most completions (907), most passing yards (11,895), and most touchdown passes (74). His average gain per play figure of 7.30 is tied for first with fellow Ring of Fame quarterback Charley Johnson. Morton also once completed 16 consecutive passes in a game and once had a streak of nine consecutive games with a touchdown pass.

Morton's Professional Career Record
3,786 2,053 27,908 54.2 183 183

Haven C. Moses
#25 - WR - 1972-1981 - Inducted: 1988

Haven Moses was inducted into the Ring of Fame along with teammates Craig Morton and kicker Jim Turner. Moses played 10 seasons with the Broncos as one of the team's primary wide receivers, and ranks sixth all-time among Denver receivers with 302 catches. He ended his career with 5,450 receiving yards. He is also tied for first with fellow Ring of Famer Lionel Taylor in all-time receiving touchdowns with 44. His yards-per-catch average was 18.0, and he averaged over 19 yards a catch in 1974, 1976 and 1977. In the AFC Championship Game on New Year's Day, 1978, Moses caught five passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Haven still resides in the Denver area remains active in the community.

Moses' Professional Career Record
201 448 8,121 18.1 56

Thomas A. Nalen
#66 - C - 1994-2008 - Inducted: 2013

Tom Nalen was elected into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame in 2013. He played center for the Broncos for 14 seasons (1994-2007), anchoring an offensive line that was the standard among NFL units during that span. He saw action in the third-most regular-season games (194) in franchise history, and his 188 starts are second only to quarterback John Elway in Denver’s record books. The 11 single-season 1,000-yard rushers and 93 single-game 100-yard rushers he blocked for as the team’s starting center (1995-2007) represented the most by an NFL club during that time and the Broncos’ 395 sacks allowed in that span were the third fewest in the league. Originally drafted by Denver in the seventh round (218th overall) in 1994, Nalen went on to make five Pro Bowls (1997-2000, ‘03)—the most by an offensive lineman in Broncos history—in addition to being named an All-Pro selection three times (First Team – 2000 ’03; Second Team – 1999) and the NFL’s Offensive Lineman of the Year following the 2003 season. He was a member of Denver’s back-to-back Super Bowl champion teams from 1997-98 and his 13 career postseason starts are tied for the third-highest total in team history.

Nalen' Professional Career Record
Games Starts
194 188

Gerald H. Phipps
Owner - 1961-1981 - Inducted: 1985

Gerald Phipps became the first and only non-player to be inducted into the Denver Broncos' Ring of Fame in 1985. Under the guidance of Gerald and his brother Allan, the Broncos rose from their less than auspicious beginnings, to the top of the American Football Conference. In 1977, the Broncos laid claim to their first ever AFC Championship, won the Western Division title in 1977 and 1978 and made three consecutive playoff appearances (1977-1979). Under Phipps, the Broncos ultimately rose to a position as one of the NFL's most prominent franchises. With the success of the Broncos, the doors were opened for other major league teams from other sports to grab a piece of the Denver sports pie. Following the takeover by the Phipps brothers, Bronco season ticket sales improved from 8,002 in 1964 to 22,905 in 1965. Before purchasing the Broncos on February 15th, 1965, Phipps was the president of the Gerald H. Phipps, Inc. construction company, which he continued to operate. Born March 4th, 1915 in Denver, Gerald Phipps passed away on August 6th, 1993 at the age of 78.

Shannon Sharpe
#81-84 - TE – 1990-99, 2002-03 - Inducted: 2009

Shannon Sharpe was elected as the 22nd member of the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame on May 12, 2009 and inducted on September 20, after 12 record-setting seasons with the club from 1990-99 and 2002-03. He tied a Broncos franchise record with seven consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 1992-98 while becoming the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns by a tight end (currently second to Tony Gonzalez). A key member of the Broncos’ back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams from 1997-98, Sharpe also was a four-time first-team All-Pro selection by the Associated Press while a member of the Broncos. In 172 career regular-season games (139 starts) with Denver, Sharpe registered the second-most receptions (675), receiving yards (8,439) and receiving touchdowns (55) by a player in club annals, trailing only wide receiver Rod Smith. He also played two seasons with Baltimore from 2000-01, earning the third Super Bowl ring of his career during the 2000 campaign and his eighth trip to the Pro Bowl in 2001 with the Ravens. For his 14-year NFL career, Sharpe played 204 regular season games (169 starts) and had 815 receptions for 10,060 yards (12.3 avg.) with 62 touchdowns. A finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009, Sharpe owns more receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, Super Bowl wins and Pro Bowl selections than any of the seven tight ends enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Sharpe, who was selected by the Broncos in the seventh round (192nd overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft from Savannah State University, was named the first-team tight end on the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team as chosen by the Hall of Fame Selection Committee members. In 2011, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Shannon is now a commentator for CBS Sports’ NFL coverage and resides in Glennville, Ga.

Sharpe's Denver Broncos Career Record
172 675 8,439 12.5 82t 55

Dennis Smith
#49 - S - 1981-1994 - Inducted: 2001

Dennis Smith was inducted into the Ring of Fame in 2001, reflective of his stellar 14- year career with the Broncos during which he established himself as one of the most feared safeties in the NFL. A ferocious hitter, Smith was voted to play in six Pro Bowls (following the 1985-'86, 1989- '91 and '93 seasons), was named All- NFL four times (1985-'86, '89 and '93), was named All- AFC four times (1984-'86, '98) and played on three Broncos Super Bowl teams (XXI, XXII, XXIV). He was also named the club's Most Inspirational Player in 1992. Smith ranks fourth all- time in games played by a Bronco (184), fifth in games started (170) and sixth in both career interceptions (30) and interception return yards (431). He is one of just three players in the history of the Broncos franchise to play at least 14 seasons with the club, behind John Elway (16) and tied with Tom Jackson. Smith's career totals include 1,171 tackles (794) and 14 sacks. He posted a career-high five sacks in 1983, a career-high five interceptions in '91 and a career-high 120 tackles in '92. Smith was a consensus All- America choice as a senior at USC in 1980, where he lettered four times in football and three times in track. He posted 205 career tackles and 16 interceptions, and played in two Rose Bowls as a Trojan. Dennis and his wife, Andre, own and manage a number of properties in Southern California, and also give their time and financial support to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Covenant House, a home for kids in need. Smith resides in Hollywood Hills, California.

Smith's Professional Career Record
180 141 794 377 1,171 14.0 30 431 14.4 0

Paul E. Smith
#70 - DT - 1968-1978 - Inducted: 1986

Paul Smith was inducted into the Ring of Fame in 1986 along with quarterbacks Charley Johnson and Frank Tripucka. Smith posted 55 quarterback sacks for his career, sixth most on the Broncos' all-time list. He also posted 11 sacks in both the 1972 and 1973 seasons, propelling him to back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances. Smith was one of the leaders during the years when Denver was establishing its reputation for defensive excellence. His head coach, John Ralston, once said that Smith was "the finest defensive tackle in pro football." Smith's 11-year career was the longest in Bronco annals until he was surpassed by fellow Ring of Famer Billy Thompson. He was the first 10-year man in Bronco history. Born August 13th, 1945 in Roswell, New Mexico, Paul Smith passed away on March 14th, 2000 at the age of 54.

Smith's Denver Broncos Career Record
Games Sacks
134 55

Rod Smith
#80 - WR - 1995-2007 - Inducted: 2012

Rod Smith, the franchise’s all-time leading receiver, was elected to the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame in 2012. A three-time Pro Bowl selection (2000-01, ‘05), Smith played 183 regular-season games (158 starts) over 12 seasons while setting club records for receptions (849), receiving yards (11,389) and receiving touchdowns (68). He also set the team’s career postseason receiving marks with 49 catches for 860 yards and six touchdowns in 13 playoff games, including Denver’s back-to-back Super Bowl championships following the 1997 and ‘98 seasons. Originally signed by the Broncos as a college free agent from Division II Missouri Southern University in 1994, Smith spent his rookie season on Denver’s practice squad. His first NFL reception came against the Washington Redskins on Sept. 17, 1995, on a 43-yard catch from quarterback John Elway as time expired to give the Broncos a dramatic 38-31 victory. Smith eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark in six consecutive seasons from 1997-2002 and in a club record eight seasons overall (also from 2004-05). His career totals include a franchise best 30 100-yard receiving games in the regular season, including in a career-high eight contests during the 2000 season. Following his final game as a Bronco at the conclusion of the 2006 regular season, Smith was ranked 11th in NFL history in career receptions (849), 17th in career receiving yards (11,389) and tied for 30th in career receiving touchdowns (68). His string of posting 70 or more catches for nine consecutive seasons (1997-2005) tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history, and his career reception and receiving yardage totals still lead all undrafted players in league annals.

Smith's Denver Broncos Career Record
849 11,389 13.4 68

Lionel T. Taylor
#87 - E - 1960-1966 - Inducted: 1984

Lionel Taylor, one of the original Broncos, was also one of the original Ring of Famers, being inducted in 1984. He is the Broncos' all-time leading receiver in terms of both receptions (543) and yardage (6,872). He is also tied for first in touchdown receptions for a career with 44. Taylor caught 92 passes during the 1960 season and followed that campaign with a team-record 100 receptions in 1961, becoming the first receiver in pro football's history with 100 catches in a single season. He led the AFL in receiving for five of the league's first six years of existence. Taylor was regarded by many as the possessor of the best hands in pro football. He never had fewer than 76 receptions in a season over those first six years, averaging 84.7 catches from 1960 to 1965, at that time, the highest six-year total in football history. Taylor was an All-AFL selection in 1960, 1961 and 1965 and played in the league all-star game in 1962. In the years since his retirement, Taylor has enjoyed an extensive coaching career as both an assistant in the NFL and collegiate ranks as well as head coach of NFLE's England Monarchs. He is makes his home in New Mexico.

Taylor's Denver Broncos Career Record
543 6,872 12.8 44

William A. "Billy" Thompson
#36 - DB - 1969-1981 - Inducted: 1987

Billy Thompson, regarded by many as the best defensive back in Denver Broncos annals, was the only Ring of Fame inductee in 1987. He was the first player in team history to play 13 seasons with Denver, and he was the team's defensive captain for many years. Thompson, despite being retired for 15 years, still ranks second on the Broncos' all-time list for games started with 178, second with consecutive starts with 142, and sixth in games played with 179. He finished his career with 61 turnovers (most in team history), 40 of which came via interceptions (third in team history). He holds two NFL records, one of which has stood for over two decades. As a rookie in 1969, Thompson became the only player in NFL history to lead the league in both kickoffs and punt returns in the same season. He is also one of only two players in NFL history to return four opponent fumble recoveries for touchdowns. "BT" was a three-time Pro Bowl selection (1977, 1978 & 1981) and earned All-NFL honors twice (1977-'78) and All-AFC honors four times (1977-'79, '81). Thompson was a college scout for the Broncos for two years before moving into the position of Director of Player Relations and Alumni Coordinator; at present, he serves as Director of Community Outreach. Billy resides in Aurora, Colorado.

Thompson's Denver Broncos Career Record
Games Starts INT YDS AVG TD
179 178 40 784 19.6 3

Francis M. J. "Frank" Tripucka
#18 - QB - 1960-1963 - Inducted: 1986

Frank Tripucka—who was one of the four original Ring of Fame inductees in 1984—is also one of the original Broncos, having played for the team from 1960 to 1963. "Trip" led the Broncos to their first ever .500 season in 1962 (7-7). He was half of the Tripucka-to-Lionel Taylor passing combination, as the duo (both Ring of Famers) went on to set various marks together. Tripucka's best statistical season came in 1960 when he completed 248 of 478 passes (51.9%) for 3,038 yards and 24 touchdowns. His 477 yards passing against Buffalo (Sep. 15, 1962) still stands as the team record, and he shares the team record for most touchdown passes in a game with five (Oct. 28, 1962 vs. Buffalo). Tripucka also has the distinction of having thrown the first touchdown pass in the American Football League's history (to Al Carmichael on Sep. 9, 1960 at Boston). In addition to his status as a member of the Ring of Fame, Tripucka remains as only one of three players in Broncos' history to have his jersey number (18) retired, however, he gave his blessing to quarterback Peyton Manning to wear the number when he signed with Denver in March 2012. Born December 8th, 1927 in Bloomfield, New Jersey, Frank Tripucka passed away on September 12th, 2013 at the age of 85.

Tripucka's Denver Broncos Career Record
1,277 622 51.8 7,676 51 85

James B. "Jim" Turner
#15 - K - 1971-1979 - Inducted: 1988

Jim Turner, a 1988 inductee into the Ring of Fame, ranks as one of the most prolific kickers of all time in professional football. At the time of his retirement in 1979, Turner ranked second in NFL career scoring with 1,439 points, as well as second in field goals with 304. Turner kicked 521 extra points and was the fourth player to reach the 500 mark. He never missed a game as a pro and finished with a streak of 228 consecutive appearances, including 130 as a Bronco, for whom he scored 742 points, easily establishing himself as Denver's all-time scoring leader. He once had a string of 221 consecutive extra points, which was then the second longest streak in NFL history. Before joining the Broncos in 1971, Turner was an outstanding kicker for the New York Jets, helping lead the club to an upset victory in Super Bowl III. Turner still resides in the Denver area remains active in the community.

Turner's Professional Career Record
2,053 521 - 546 .954 - 304 - 489 .622 53 1,439

Louis D. "Louie" Wright
#20 - CB - 1975-1986 - Inducted: 1993

Louis Wright was the most recent inductee into the Broncos' Ring of Fame before John Elway, entering the Ring in 1993. Wright enjoyed a stellar 12-year career at cornerback for Denver, playing in 166 games (163 starts, 7th on all-time Broncos list), reeling in 26 interceptions--one which he returned for a touchdown--and 11 fumble recoveries. Wright was named to the Pro Bowl five times in his career (1977-'79, '83 & '85). He was named All-NFL by The Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly, and the NEA in 1977. He also received All-AFC honors from UPI in 1985. "Lou-dini" was also twice named defensive MVP by his teammates in 1982 and 1984. Wright is now a football coach in the Denver area and resides in Aurora, Colorado.

Wright's Denver Broncos Career Record
Games Starts INT YDS AVG TD
166 163 26 360 13.8 1

Gary W. Zimmerman
#65 - T - 1993-1997 - Inducted: 2003

Gary Zimmerman, named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2008, was inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame on September 28, 2003. He played tackle for the Broncos for five seasons (1993-97) and became the first offensive lineman in the history of the franchise to be honored with inclusion in the Ring. A finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame from 2003-04 and ‘06-07 before he joined John Elway as the second HOF inductee who spent a primary portion of his career in Denver, Zimmerman was acquired by the Broncos in a trade from Minnesota on Aug. 24, 1993, after playing his first seven years with the Vikings. He was named to the Pro Bowl three times (1994-96) as a Bronco and helped the franchise to its first-ever World Championship with a victory over Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXII during his final season in 1997. Zimmerman, who started all 76 games played as a Bronco, helped Denver lead the NFL in total yards twice (1996-97) and record three consecutive top-5 league rushing rankings (1995-97), including an NFL-best mark in 1996. During his 12 career seasons in the NFL from 1986-97, Zimmerman started all 184 games played and was named to seven Pro Bowls (1987-89, ‘92, ‘94-96) while receiving first or second-team All-Pro honors eight times. He holds the unique distinction of being one of only a handful of players to be named to two NFL All-Decade teams (1980s and 1990s). Picked in the first round (third overall) of the 1984 supplemental draft by the New York Giants, his signing rights were traded to the Vikings for two second-round picks in the 1986 draft. He spent two seasons with the L.A. Express of the USFL before reporting to Minnesota, where he began a streak of 169 consecutive starts that lasted until 1996 when surgery sidelined him. Zimmerman, who helped the Vikings lead the NFC in rushing in 1991, anchored offensive lines that blocked for a conference’s leading passer four times during his career (1986, ‘88, ‘93, ‘96). He played at the University of Oregon, where he received first-team All-Pacific-10 Conference honors as a senior. In 2008, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Zimmerman and his family now make their home in Bend, Oregon.

Broncos in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

In addition to John Elway, Gary Zimmerman, Floyd Little, and Shannon Sharpe (profiled above),
two players enshrined as members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame—cornerback Willie Brown and running back Tony Dorsett
spent a portion of their professional playing careers with the Denver Broncos.

William F. "Willie" Brown
#24 - CB - 1963-1966 - Inducted: 1984

Cornerback Willie Brown was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984. An undrafted free agent, Brown was cut by the Oilers before joining the Broncos in 1963. He was named All-American Football League in 1964. He intercepted nine passes that season, including a team-record four in one game (Nov. 15, 1964 vs. New York), and was named the outstanding back in the AFL All-Star game in January, 1965. Prior to the 1967 season, he, along with quarterback Mickey Slaughter, was traded to the Raiders for defensive tackle Rex Mirich and a draft choice. Possibly one of the worst trades in NFL history, Brown went on to play twelve more seasons in Oakland (1967-'78) where he was an all-league performer every year from 1968 to 1973, while making three AFL All-Star game (1967-'69) and four Pro Bowl (1970-'73) appearances. Willie has remained in football in various coaching capacities and currently resides in California.

Brown's Professional Career Record
54 472 8.7 2

Anthony D. "Tony" Dorsett
#33 - RB - 1988-1989 - Inducted: 1994

Running back Tony Dorsett, though best known for his brilliant 11-year tenure with the Dallas Cowboys, was a member of the Denver Broncos during the 1988 and 1989 seasons. He joined the Broncos in a 1988 trade (for a conditional 5th round draft choice) and went on to lead the club in rushing that season with 703 yards on 181 carries with five touchdowns. He spent the 1989 season on injured before his retirement, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of '94. "TD," who ranks third on the all-time NFL rushing list with 12,739 yards, captured rookie of the year honors in 1977 when he helped lead the Cowboys to victory over the Broncos in Super Bowl XII. He went on to earn four Pro Bowl selections (1978, 1981-'83) during his career. Involved with several business interests, Tony still resides in Dallas.

Dorsett's Professional Career Record
2,936 12,739 4.3 78

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