When Shannon Sharpe's bust in unveiled on Saturday evening, the prolific tight end will become the sixth Denver Bronco to enter the NFL Hall of Fame. But that's by the Halls definition. If we consider only those who played the majority or at least a significant portion of their careers with the Broncos, that number is narrowed down to four. Those names are easy to recall: Sharpe, quarterback John Elway, offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman and running back Floyd Little.
(Willie Brown played the first four years of his career in Denver (63-66), but played for the Raiders until 1978. Tony Dorsett played for the Broncos in 1988 and then retired. And don't even include Jerry Rice, who never played a regular season down with the team).
John Elway was the first overall pick in the 1983 NFL and forced a trade to the Broncos after his selection by the Colts. After a rough start to his career, Elway led the Broncos to five Super Bowls, but he didn't find that winning touch there until his final two seasons, winning back-to-back Super Bowls to end a storied career. He won 148 regular season games, threw for 51,475 yards, passed for 300 touchdowns and will forever be remembered for "The Drive" and his helicopter spin against the Packers in the Super Bowl. The nine-time Pro Bowler was inducted in 2004.
Gary Zimmerman joined Elway in Canton in 2008. He was a tackle's tackle. He was a rock solid anchor on the Minnesota Vikings' offensive line from 1986-92 before joining the Broncos via a trade late into the 1993 preseason. He played in 169 consecutive games at one point, but he was one of those guys who toughed out all of the pain that he piled up during the course of a season. He helped the Broncos to their first Super Bowl in Jan. 1998 and was named to three of his seven Pro Bowl appearances as a Bronco. He was selected to the the 1980s All-Decade and the 1990s All-Decade team.
Floyd Little had to wait a long time to receive his bust in Canton, but that came in 2010. He was the Broncos first-round pick in 1967, sixth overall, and over the years acquired the nickname "The Franchise." He has been rightly hailed as the player who kept the Broncos alive in Denver. He rushed for 6,323 yards in nine seasons, gaining 1,133, a career-high, in 1971. That was when 1,000 yard seasons meant something. A threat out of the backfield, Little gained 2,418 receiving yards.
And now Shannon Sharpe joins those three famous Broncos in Canton.
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