It’s Broncos’ Mt. Rushmore nomination time

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The Mt. Rushmore nomination process migrates to the AFC West, and starts with the two-time defending division champs in Denver.

Nominate your favorite all-time Broncos for the list of 10-12 finalists, from which four will eventually be culled.

John Elway, check.

After that, it’s not so easy.  Rod Smith, Floyd Little.  Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe.  Randy Gradishar.  Steve Atwater.  Champ Bailey.  Pat Bowlen.

For now, just make your nominations.  The hard part for the Broncos (and plenty of other multiple Super Bowl-winning teams) comes later.

146 responses to “It’s Broncos’ Mt. Rushmore nomination time

  1. Those names are right but we must add Dennis Smith, Tom Nalen, Al Wilson, Tom Jackson, Karl Mecklenburg, Rulon Jones, Jason Elam and maybe Tyrone Braxton, Ed McCaffrey, Steve Foley, Bill Thompson.

  2. Im going to go with Rod Smith. So many to choose from though. Darrent Williams, Al Wilson, Tom Nalen, Eddie Mac, all the guys mentioned above. Denver Broncos, greatest franchise in the NFL!!

  3. In addition to what you have you have to add hall of famer Garry Zimmerman and should-be hall of famer Tom Nalen. Then Karl Meklenberg too. I wouldn’t vote for him but Bill Romonowski was a face of those championship defenses.

    I would think Elway, Sharpe, Davis and Nalen is the answer

  4. John Elway
    Mike Shannahan
    Randy Gradishar
    Dan Reeves

    I know, two coaches. But both were great ones for the Broncos and both did so well, for so long, with many different players (except for Elway).

    HM: Shannon Sharpe, Champ Bailey, Terrell Davis, and Craig Morton (if he’s on one, it’s with the Broncos…not with the Cowboys).

  5. Tim Tebow! (Har Har)

    OK, ok, seriously, let’s make sure the list starts off with their greatest receiver ever- Rod Smith. (I was always a bigger Ed McCaffrey fan, but it’s hard to add him to the list over Smith due to the shorter career).

  6. Top 12
    John Elway
    Terrell Davis
    Randy Gradishar
    Floyd Little
    Steve Watson
    Steve Atwater
    Shannon Sharpe
    Rod Smith
    Tom Jackson
    Champ Bailey
    Louis Wright
    Karl Mecklenburg

  7. need an old school bronco fan who can go wayyy back into the 60’s 70’s 80’s and inform these new school fans great bronco players back in the day who were great

    ok..fire away!

  8. I’m not a Broncos fan, but some of my fondest memories are of watching Elway play. What a quarterback!! Just going to indulge my personal preferences here:

    John Elway
    Karl Mecklenberg
    Steve Atwater
    Champ Bailey

  9. The Definitive List (in order):
    1. John Elway
    2. Steve Atwater
    3. Champ Bailey
    4. Shannon Sharpe

    The Next Four:
    5. Louis Wright
    6. Karl Mechlenburg
    7. Dennis Smith
    8. Randy Gradishar/Rod Smith (tie)

  10. 1) The team accountants whom cheated the salery cap in the ’90s; punishment of loss of draft picks
    2) All the steroids Romanowski took.
    3) Josh McDaniels
    4) Rahim Moore
    5) Dude in a bucket

  11. Let me remind people that it took Elway ELEVEN years to garner a 20-10 TD to INT ratio. Call him great all you want, but that’s like Sanchez suddenly becoming clutch.

  12. John Elway in his helicopter spin in SBXXXII
    Terrell Davis doing a Mile High Salute
    Steve Atwater standing over Christian Okoye
    Tom Jackson with the caption “jacked up!”

  13. Ed McCafferey, Dennis Smith, Darrent Williams and Simon Fletcher are all good adds.

  14. Elway, Rod Smith, Steve Atwater, Shannon Sharpe.

    I think Shanahan’s plug-and-play running back success after Davis diminish his contributions.

  15. John Elway, Shannon Sharpe, Floyd Little, Rich (Tombstone) Jackson, Steve Atwater, Karl Mecklenberg, Randy Gradishar, Louis Wright, Haven Moses, Simon Fletcher, Dan Reeves, Mike Shanahan, Bob Howsam, Pat Bowlen. Not enough space on the mountain for a true Broncos Mt. Rushmore.

  16. Rich “Tombstone” Jackson
    Lionel Taylor
    Floyd Little
    Charlie Johnson
    Louis Wright
    Randy Gradishar
    Steve Foley
    John Elway
    Dennis Smith
    Steve Atwater
    Rod Smith
    Terrell Davis
    Shannon Sharpe
    Karl Mecklinburg
    Simon Fletcher
    Champ Bailey

  17. Elway
    T Davis
    Champ Bailey
    Shannon Sharpe

    HM-

    Karl Mecklemburg
    Rod Smith
    Ed McCaffrey
    Steve Atwater
    T Nalen
    R Clady
    Dennis Smith
    The three amigos

  18. Elway
    Sharpe
    Little
    Tripucka (Put him up there because they gave his RETIRED jersey to Manning, who should have understood and never asked for it! Before you Bronco fans get in a tizzy, I know that Tripucka said it was OK. But, if you really think deep down that’s true, then you’re just foolin’ yourself.)

  19. Elway (HOF)

    Sharpe (HOF)

    T.D. (Should be HOF. If Gayle Sayers is in then….)

    Champ (Future HOF) or Atwater (granted he wouldn’t be allowed to have a career right now but Okoye would give him the nod)

  20. Actually, if they keep the carvings true to scale, this is one team where they could have 5 people. If they do Elway’s giant horse face, they could carve the 4 other heads on his teeth.

  21. This is a ridiculous exercise to try to limit a proud fifty year old franchise to only four people. There are many great Broncos that are monumental in the hearts of Denver fans. That being said, Elway is an automatic.

    Any Bronco fan that was around in the early 1970s would not question the importance of Floyd Little.

    Anyone who remembers the Orange Crush would understand how great Randy Gradishar was as its leader.

    And it is my opinion that the two Super bowl victories simply don’t happen without Terrell Davis, even though his time with Denver was cut way too short.

    Honorable Mentions
    Shannon Sharpe
    Gary Zimmerman
    Tom Nalen
    Rod Smith
    Mike Shanahan
    Ed McCaffrey
    Tom Jackson
    Louis Wright
    Billy Thompson
    Steve Atwater
    Champ Bailey

  22. Elway, Smith, Eddie Mac , Davis, Nalen. And to the IDIOT that said Elway noway…. tards can’t vote.

  23. Elway
    Davis
    Sharpe
    Smith
    Mecklenberg
    Atwater
    Jackson
    McCaffery
    Elam
    Bailey
    Little
    Nalen

  24. John Elway (really need any explanation?)
    Terrell Davis (League MVP, Super Bowl MVP, 2k season, without him Denver still has not won a Super Bowl)
    Mike Shanahan (Best coach in Broncos history and won 2 Super Bowls)
    Pat Bowlen (Only reason Broncos are competitive every year)

  25. Floyd Little
    John Elway
    Shannon Sharpe
    Tom Jackson (heart and soul of team that lost Super Bowl XII)
    And how about some love for the guy whose retired jersey number Manning stole – Frank Tripucka.

  26. John Elway
    Floyd Little
    Terrell Davis
    Lionel Taylor
    Rod Smith
    Shannon Sharpe
    Gary Zimmerman
    Simon Fletcher
    Rubin Carter
    Tom Jackson
    Randy Gradishar
    Karl Mecklenberg
    Louis Wright
    Champ Bailey
    Steve Atwater
    Jason Elam
    Mike Shanahan
    Dan Reeves
    Alex Gibbs

  27. 1. John Elway – With a career long supporting cast, he’d be the best QB ever
    2. Floyd Little – Elway before there was Elway
    3. Gary Zimmerman – The best OL to live in Denver
    4. Shannon Sharpe – The reason the position is what it is today. Many guys are millionaires because he paved their roads.
    5. Terrell Davis – Personified the tipping point from good franchise to great franchise
    6. Randy Gradishar – Best LB the team’s had
    7. Champ Bailey – Figurehead CB in the NFL for a decade
    8. Steve Atwater – Underappreciated historically. Best safety of the 90s possibly.
    9. Rod Smith – Defined the Bronco mentality for his team from ’99-’05
    10. Tom Nalen – Second best blocking lineman, best lineman leader
    11. Tom Jackson – Personified tipping point from mediocre franchise to good franchise
    12. Simon Fletcher – Sack machine on Wade Phillips dominant Ds

  28. Elway (duh)
    Atwater
    Grandishar
    Shannahan

    Was hard to leave TD off there, but you can only have 4… blame the guy who designed Mt. Rushmore with only 4 faces on it.

  29. John Elway, Floyd Little, Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, Randy Gradishar, Louis Wright, Tom Jackson, Steve Atwater, Dennis Smith, Rod Smith, Rich Jackson, Karl Mecklenburg, Mike Shanahan, Barrel Man.

  30. I’m literally lol’ing at all you lame haters, what with your poor excuses and tired name-calling…
    LOL!

    1) John Elway – No need to explain – the man took those 80’s teams to the Super Bowl…can anyone name another player on those teams? I bet people have a hard time naming all three of the 3 Amigo’s…

    2) Terrell Davis – It is a downright shame he isn’t in the Hall of Fame before Warren Sapp and Curtis Martin.

    3) Pat Bowlen – One of the greatest owners ever. Stays out of the way (unless it is to hand Elway Lombardi trophies!), isn’t afraid to take a chance, and can open the wallet when needed.

    4) Steve Atwater – Another damn shame this man isn’t in the HoF. If John Lynch gets in before Atwater, it will be one of the biggest examples of idiocy in the history of the NFL.
    Just ask Christian Okoye.

    Final 8:
    5) Shannon Sharpe – revolutionized the TE/Flex/Y position

    6) Mike Shanahan & his coaching staff – the one-cut zone blocking scheme tore the NFL a new one in the late 90’s

    7) Floyd Little – literally saved the franchise

    8) Champ Bailey – the term ‘Shut-Down Cornerback’ was coined because of him

    9) The Orange Crush – I was born in ’77, so I wasn’t able to enjoy their dominance, but all four members deserve their own spot on the mountain

    10) Rod Smith & Ed McCaffrey – perfect complimenting WR’s, and true teammates – TD doesn’t rush for 2K without some downfield blocking

    11) Tom Nalen, Mark Schlereth, & Gary Zimmerman – the best combination of Offensive Linemen I’ve ever seen

    12) Von Miller – just wait…

  31. To me, the first 3 are easy (all NFL HOFers):

    Elway
    Sharpe
    Little

    Then, the 4th is difficult with any of the following worthy:

    Receivers Lionel Taylor and Rod Smith
    LBs T Jackson, Gradishar, Mecklenberg
    DBs Billy Thompson, Steve Atwater, Bailey

  32. Yes Terrell Davis should be in the Hall of Fame if he is not already. I have been a bronco fan since the days of Craig Morton, yes I show my age. that was the start of the orange crush that got crushed a few times under his tenure like the superbowl against Dallas in 1978, when i first came from France, the first time. Then I remember in 1983 when the Broncos first picked up John Elway with that awesome group of QBs (Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Jim Kelly, etc) and to see him carry the orange crush. I think Jason Elam is one of the best kickers I have ever seen, rarely missed a FG, he used to succeded at 56 yrd attempts; He was awesome.

  33. As a Denver native, three are no-brainers:

    1. Floyd Little. During the AFL years, he was The Franchise–period, end of discussion.
    2. Randy Gradishar. During the Orange Crush years, he was the face of the franchise on the field and in the community. One of the Hall of Fame’s most egregious snubs.
    3. John Elway. Duh.

    With no obvious #4, maybe Pat Bowlen would be the choice. When you look at other numb-nut owners across the league, a little class might be worth the recognition.

  34. Peyton is a thief, he stole Frankj Tripucka’s retiired number and forced Tebow out of the broncos, causes the broncos to take out an insurance policy because he is assigned risk and costs them 96 million and he could not even win a playff game. i guess after that game Peyton sees Joe Flacco in his sleep LOL:)

  35. 1. John Elway
    2. The entire O-line from 96′ to 99′
    3. Steve Atwater
    4. Terrell Davis

    I was born in 78′ and didn’t watch much football until about 85′ so I can’t include Floyd Little or anybody from the Orange Crush D’ …

  36. 1. Elway
    2. Mike Shanahan
    3. Shannon Sharpe
    4. Randy Gradishar

    Lots of other capable names of being on there. TD deserves accord and I think if he gets in the HOF, he would be in the list. Rod Smith/Ed Mac had very good careers but they were never the guys to make it go like Elway, TD, and Sharpe were. Gary Zimmerman deserves mention but i’m sure he would be the first to say no to the honor. Floyd Little definitely deserves nomination here but I couldn’t put him in over TD.

    Steve Atwater, Karl Mecklenburg, Dennis Smith, and Champ Bailey all worth their weight in honorable mention, still, they lack the certain star quality to be on this list.

    When it comes down to it, Denver has a very unique history. We arrived on the scene in the late 70’s amidst the great run of the Steelers, Raiders and Dolphins. We did this by having a crushing defense… an Orange Crush defense, led by Randy Gradishar. Our Super Bowl appearance in 78′ gave us national respect which would capitalized upon by the trade for John Elway in 83′.

    The rest of what we know from Denver is 30 years of dominant football in the AFC from the 80’s-10’s, and these years largely coincided with the Elway/Shanahan years. 6 Super Bowl appearances, 2 Super Bowl wins, 8 AFC Championship games, dozens of come from behind victories… Elway was one of the greatest QB’s to ever strap on a helmet, and Shanahan was the mastermind that built the dynasty. While the 49ers will be known for their QB play under Bill Walsh, and the Steelers for their defense under Chuck Knoll and Dick Lebeau, Denver will always be known for their devastating running game under Mike Shanahan, annually leading the league with no name rushers, zone blocking schemes, cut back lanes. Shanny has solidified his bust in the hall of fame from this offense he molded into his own. Finally, the guy who gave a voice to mid-size market Denver in the national media was Shannon Sharpe. He was as great for a sound bite as he was for a 5-6 catch, 100 yd game. He truly accelerated the use of pass catching TE’s in the NFL as he constantly created mismatches in the defensive secondary. His maligned blocking was never very accurate, because the stats provide other information. He wasn’t dominate but did what he needed to do to get TD open running lanes.

  37. Elway hands down.
    Terrell Davis because without him we wouldn’t have the two rings.
    Shannahan, see reason for Davis.
    Tim Tebow because the one year was the most exciting year of broncos football ever. The ups the downs and the pure excitement of Tebow Time.

  38. The first three are obvious for any longtime (I remember their first Super Bowl) fans because, in their respective eras, they brought the Broncos to a new place:

    1) John Elway: Heart of Championships
    2) Randy Gradishar: Face of the Orange Crush
    3) Floyd Little: First claim of pride in the NFL

    The fourth is difficult as there are many who fit into this next tier: Pat Bowlen, Tom Jackson, Steve Atwater, Gary Zimmerman, Tom Nalen, Karl Meklenburg, Terrell Davis, Rod Smith, Rick Upchurch, Champ Bailey, Otis Armstrong, Shannon Sharpe, Lionel Taylor, Dennis Smith and Jason Elam.

    But for his hall of fame career, his position changing abilities, and his status as the top player in his position in history at his retirement, I have to go with:

    4) Shannon Sharpe

  39. Elway, gradishar, r. Smith, champ. This is a tough mountain to carve out cuz atwater made it fun to watch defense. T davis was a stud. Sharpe was a pioneer. So many good players to name just 4.

    Go Hawks!

  40. John Elway
    Ed Mccafrey
    Bill Romonowski
    Shannon Sharpe
    Steve Atwater
    Rod Smith
    Terrell Davis
    Tom Nalen
    Jason Elam
    Floyd Little
    Gary Zimmerman

  41. My vote is based on the Bronco players that gave my Raiders the most problems when both teams were competitive and the rivalry was most fierce. So I’m excluding those Denver players from 1960-72 (when Denver was crap) and 2003-present (when the Raiders were crap).

    My list is:

    Randy Gradishar
    John Elway
    Karl Mecklenburg
    Steve Atwater

    As a footnote, I’ve always wondered why a large portion of the Bronco fanbase hates Dan Reeves?
    Yes, he lost 3 Super Bowls, but he had Denver competitive most of the time.

  42. Elway, Mecklenberg, Shanahan and Dan “I can never have to many tight ends” Reeves. Shannon Sharpe gets honorable mention, but the thought of him Mt Rushmore size just scares me.

  43. Rod Smith, one of the greatest undrafted players to ever play the game and he didn’t just play he was consistently good his entire career.

  44. Top 4:

    John Elway
    Terrell Davis
    Shannon Sharpe
    Champ Bailey

    Honorable Mention:

    Mecklenburg
    Romanowski
    Smith

  45. The Broncos should be able to ad a fifth spot for Team dentist, they seriously have some of the most jacked up teeth in NFL history, Shanahan, Elway, Sharpe all have what I like to call “The Mile High Smile or Bronco Teeth. NFL films could do a 2 hour special on the effects of altitude on NFL players teeth. 30 for 30 special would be good too! Go Raiders, the only team that counts!

  46. My nomination is a can of Orange Crush to represent their Orange Crush Defense from the late 70’s. Every member of that unit deserves to be represented as a whole.

  47. Bronco Fan since the Orange Crush days.

    Mount Rushmore:

    Floyd Little – The Franchise
    Randy Gradishar — Face of the Crush
    Champ Bailey – Future HOFer
    John Elway — GOAT

    Honorable Mention:

    Steve Atwater – The Hitter
    Terrell Davis — Could have been GOAT
    Rod Smith – Greatest Undrafted Player Ever
    Gary Zimmerman – O-Line Legend
    Shannon Sharpe — GOAT TE

    FYI – the nomination of Travis Henry and 3 of his kids had me LOLing!

  48. I know there is a lot of love for Zimmerman, TD and Sharpe and I get it. I just don’t want to penalize Champ, Floyd and Randy because they never won a SB. (At least until next year in Champ’s case!)

  49. Elway, of course.
    Rich “Tombstone” Jackson – there’s an argument that this guy would still hold the NFL sack record if they tracked it when he was active.
    Steve Atwater – reinvented the way safety is played in the NFL. Dennis Smith should get honorable mention here since he enabled Atwater to play that way.
    Sharpe – everyone claiming he reinvented the position should know Kellen Winslow (Sr.) did a lot of the reinventing. Sharpe just solidified it and won games.

    Love a lot of the others mentioned – Gradishar, Meck, the entire Orange Crush, the silent o-line of the late 90’s, TD, Bailey, Little, Upchurch, even Elam- but those 4 were outstanding.

  50. The Core Four:

    John Elway
    Randy Gradishar
    Karl Mecklenberg
    Shannon Sharpe

    Honorable Mentions:

    Pat Bowlen
    Dan Reeves
    Mike Shanahan
    Floyd Little
    Terrell Davis
    Rod Smith
    Al Wilson
    Bill Romanowski
    Jake Plummer
    Tom Rouen
    Steve Watson
    Ed McCaffrey
    Steve Atwater
    Steve Foley
    Mark Schlereth
    Clinton Portis
    Mark Jackson
    Lionel Taylor
    Rick Jackson
    Tom Nalen
    Tom Jackson
    Jason Elam
    Jim Turner
    Champ Bailey
    Louis Wright

  51. Think everybody that should be in the nomination process has already been listed. My personal Mt. Rushmore would be:

    1. Elway
    2. Pat Bowlen
    3. Shanahan
    4. Atwater

    I’m kind of surprised more fans don’t have Bowlen listed. Personally, I think he’s almot as much of a shoe-in as Elway. One of the best owners in the NFL for a LONG time, and most of the success the franchise has seen has come under his tenure.

    Shanahan won us our only Super Bowls, and will always have a place in my heart for that.

    I picked Atwater over Sharpe and Mecklenburg for my fourth spot, but damn it sucked leaving them off. Mecklenburg is one of the biggest HOF snubs going right now, in my opinion (right along with Atwater), and Sharpe reinvented the TE position. But Atwater was the best in the game for a while, the heart of our defense for even longer, and gave me one of my ultimate fan moments when he laid out Okoye on MNF at my very first Broncos game 🙂

  52. Most of the people who posted must be too young to have seen Lionel Taylor play.

    John Elway
    Lionel Taylor
    Floyd Little
    Champ Bailey

  53. 1. ELWAY
    2. DAVIS “TD”
    3. ATWATER ” SMILING ASSASSIN”
    4. MECKLENBURG ” SNOW GOOSE”
    5. SHANNON SHAPE ” FLEX”
    6. ROD SMITH
    7. RANDY GRADISHAR
    8. DENNIS SMITH
    9. CHAMP BAILEY
    10. RICH JACKSON “TOMBSTONE”

  54. Too many to just have four.

    @3lmt

    Dan Reeves? Really? Colorado passed recreational marijuana didn’t it. Reeve’s was a loser who held Elway and Shanahan back with his dive plays on first and second downs.

  55. DenverBroncosFan_NoMatterWhat says: May 19, 2013 11:13 PM

    8) Champ Bailey – the term ‘Shut-Down Cornerback’ was coined because of him
    ———————-
    The term ‘Shut-Down Cornerback’ was coined years before Champ Bailey even came into the league. One of the players it was used to describe was Darrell Green, who showed Champ Bailey how to play CB when Bailey was a wet-behind-the-ears-rookie in Washington.

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