If you were to put together a “Mount Rushmore” for the Denver Broncos, which four players would you place atop one of the majestic Rocky Mountains?
The four icons would need to be transcendent, tremendous talents on the field and football men off the field, too.
Our Carl Pfieffer put together an NFL Mount Rushmore for every team here, with his four Broncos being John Elway, Terrell Davis, Rod Smith and Randy Gradishar.
Well, he got most of it right.
Elway is a no-brainer; put his mug up there, smiling with those big, horse-teeth and all. He remains the greatest player to ever wear the Broncos’ orange and blue 15 years after his retirement. Elway struggled to bring legitimacy to his play for years, taking Denver to three Super Bowls and losing each one in a big way. They said he couldn’t win the big game; the critics were wrong. Elway rode off into the sunset with back-to-back Super Bowl championships, leaving everything out on the gridiron physically, emotionally and maybe even spiritually. Now he calls the big office inside Dove Valley home, setting his beloved Broncos up for more Super Bowl runs.
Next to him should sit TD, who ran in so many TDs for Elway during the Broncos’ glory years. Davis was dynamic, able to run through opponents or break their ankles with a jarring juke move. He’s one of five running backs in NFL history to gain 2,000 yards rushing in a single season, racking up 21 touchdowns that year as well, which led the league and turned into an NFL MVP. He was also Super Bowl XXXII MVP and will forever be known as one of the greatest postseason running backs in league history. While Davis remains on the outside of the Professional Football Hall of Fame, many Broncos fans remain united (in orange), believing his bronze bust is deserving of a home in Canton, Ohio.
Then we have Gradishar, who was the 1978 Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL. Much like Davis, Denverites are die-hard in believing Gradishar should be in the PFHOF; he was a finalist in 2003 and 2008, missing out each time. According to Pro Football Reference, his career stacks up with HOFers Dick Butkus, Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell and Dave Robinson; still out. Gradishar was a seven-time Pro Bowler and two-time All Pro over his 10-year career, all in the Mile High City.
Finally, we have to give some love to Floyd Little. Little is the only other lifelong Bronco besides Elway to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame; Gary Zimmerman, Tony Dorsett and Shannon Sharpe all played for other teams. Little was legendary as a running back in the 1960s and 70s, playing in both the American Football League and NFL when the two merged. In 1971, Little led the NFL in both rushing yards (1,133) and yards from scrimmage (1,388) and in 1973 his 12 touchdowns were the most in the league. He was also a prolific receiver and kick-returner; Little could do it all back in his day.
So, what do you think of our list, Broncos fans?
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