It's difficult at this point in time for Denver Broncos fans to complain about how the Pro Football Hall of Fame has ignored the team historically. Since 2017, Broncos fans have watched Terrell Davis, Pat Bowlen, Steve Atwater, and Champ Bailey get elected, bringing the team's count of Hall-of-Famers to eight.
A few other players entering Canton whose tenure in Denver was a bit shorter, like Peyton Manning, John Lynch, and Brian Dawkins, has been a joy to see and has been a long time coming. Any gripe will likely fall on deaf ears because more than a couple of Broncos have made it into the Hall recently, but there is still a complaint to be made.
The beef is that the Hall-of-Fame voters ignored the Broncos for so long that too many deserving players have been pushed into the senior pool abyss. For 40 years, there was not one member of the Broncos elected to the Hall.
The Broncos began as a franchise in 1960. The first Hall-of-Fame class happened in 1963. Since then, the Broncos appeared in six Super Bowls, spanning the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, (with two victories), with two more trips to the big dance in 2013 and 15 resulting in a third World Championship. For those keeping score, that's eight Super Bowl appearances with three wins.
Despite the prolific accomplishments of the Broncos over those 40-plus years, there was nary a player selected for enshrinement in Canton until John Elway broke the ice in 2004. That is a significant amount of success to go unnoticed for four decades.
The voters turning a blind eye created the worst possible scenario for many of the older Broncos players. Currently, the senior pool has a backlog of at least 50 players who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. At one senior selection being allowed per year, the math says it is going to be a long time before any of these back-logged Broncos are put into their rightful place.
There are six former Broncos who have a strong case for being immortalized in those hallowed halls. Randy Gradishar is the most likely candidate to be selected first and will be in Canton soon. However, Karl Mecklenburg, Louis Wright, Rick Upchurch, Lionel Taylor, and Goose Gonsoulin are all Broncos in the senior pool. Each should have been enshrined many years ago.
These are not fringe candidates. A strong case can be made easily for each of them. If these Broncos were already in, as they should be, we could begin discussing fringe candidates, but alas, we cannot.
These six have long deserved their gold jackets. How long will it take for all-timers like Gradishar, Mecklenburg, Wright, Upchurch, Taylor, and Gonsoulin to be enshrined while being mired in the senior-pool bog with those other 50 players? An eternity.
Follow Thomas on Twitter @ThomasHallNFL.
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