Former Denver center Tom Nalen made a surprising confession during a press conference to introduce him as the next member of the Broncos’ Ring of Fame: Nalen said that in 2006, he attempted to injure Chargers defensive lineman Igor Olshansky.
On the play in question, the Broncos were lining up to spike the ball and stop the clock, and players on both teams just stood up. But Nalen dove into Olshansky’s knee. That infuriated Olshansky, who threw two punches at Nalen and was ejected from the game. Nalen was fined $25,000 for the cheap shot, while Olshansky was fined $10,000 for retaliating.
At the time, Nalen wouldn’t talk publicly about the play, as the Broncos’ offensive line always refused to talk to the media. But on Friday Nalen admitted that he wanted to hurt Olshansky, justifying it because Olshansky had grabbed his facemask on the previous play.
“I wouldn’t consider myself a dirty player,” Nalen said. “I know people will bring up the Igor Olshansky play in 2006, but if people would look at the play before that and realize why I did what I did — and even on that play I missed the cut — so you know definitely, I wanted to blow his knee out on that play because of what happened the play before. But that, you know, is that dirty? I don’t know. It’s revenge, kind of, so.”
Does Nalen really need to ask whether trying to blow out an opposing player’s knee is dirty? If he does, I’ll answer for him: Yes, it was a dirty play. The Broncos’ offensive linemen were often accused of playing dirty during Nalen’s time with the team, and there’s no justification for trying to blow out another player’s knee. No matter what Olshansky did, Nalen was in the wrong.