The Denver Broncos became a franchise in 1960, and since then, many people have either donned the orange and blue jersey, coached, or held ownership of the team. It is a difficult task to winnow down the greatest 100 in Broncos history when examining 60 years of those who've left an impression on the field, in the front office, or at the top of the food chain.
For this list, only those who impacted the Broncos were included. Some players may have been great in the NFL, but these rankings are for their time with the organization (for example, Tony Dorsett doesn’t make the cut).
No. 90: OL Dan Neil
The Broncos' offensive lines from 1995 to 2007 get little credit for how great they were and Neil is a player who received little recognition while starting on those lines for seven seasons. He was the starting right guard for Terrell Davis’ 2000-yard rushing season, has two Super Bowl rings, and helped that era’s zone-blocking scheme churn out a 1,000-yard rusher (2000 in 1998) for six of his seven seasons as a starter. At 285 pounds, Neil was a tough player who got by on technique, grit, and guile rather than size.
No. 89: OT Claudie Minor
Minor was able to play both the right and left sides for the Broncos. He was a key member of the offensive line during the club's first Super Bowl appearance. As a rookie, he helped Otis Armstrong power his way to one of the best running back rushing seasons in Broncos history and started every game from 1974 to 1978.
No. 88: WR Brandon Marshall
Marshall may have frustrated coaches with his antics, but for a three-year stretch, he was one of the best wide receivers to ever play for the Broncos. From 2007 to 2009, he averaged 102 receptions and 1,237 yards per season. During the 2009 campaign, he set the NFL record for the most receptions in a game (21). He was one of the few stars during a period of mediocre teams in Denver.
No. 87: OL Keith Bishop
When people ponder underappreciated players, Bishop should make most lists. He was an undersized guard and center in Denver who played for the team from 1980 to 1989. He was a starter for all three of the Broncos' Super Bowl appearances in the 80s and was voted to two Pro Bowls for his work on the offensive line. Bishop was a key member of one of the greatest moments in franchise history, The Drive. His quote that day — “We’ve got them right where we want them" — will forever be remembered fondly by Broncos Country.
No. 86: RB Cookie Gilchrist
After spending significant time in the Canadian Football League, Cookie Gilchrist had a short career of only six seasons in the AFL. His time in Denver was short but effective. In 1965, he was an AFL All-Pro and All-Star for the Broncos — a workhorse running back who led the league in carries and overall touches. Also, that season, he led the AFL in rushing touchdowns and was second in rushing yards. He is a member of the AFL’s All-Decade Team.
No. 85: DL Malik Jackson
One of the greatest defenses in NFL history, the 2015 Broncos, was led by the immensely talented Von Miller. However, the interior pass rush that season was crucial, and Jackson was the driving force. His development culminated in 5.5 sacks, a safety, two fumble recoveries, and seven passes defended. He was a beast in Super Bowl 50, recovering a fumble for a touchdown and five tackles. Jackson’s performance that season was absolutely vital to Denver capturing the Lombardi Trophy.
No. 84: OL Paul Howard
Not many players were with the organization longer than Howard, whose career started with Charley Johnson as the starting quarterback and ended three seasons into John Elway’s tenure. Howard was a member of the team for its first two Super Bowl appearances and has been voted by the Denver Post as the greatest guard in Broncos history.
No. 83: DL Keith Traylor
Drafted by the Broncos in 1991 as a 260-pound inside linebacker, Traylor needed time away and returned as a 330-pound defensive tackle. In 1997, he helped power the Broncos to its first two Super Bowl victories. Traylor spent six seasons in Denver and was a solid force in the middle of the defense. Even though his size increased, he never lost his athletic ability. During the famed snow travel game in 1997 against the Buffalo Bills, he intercepted a pass and rumbled 62 yards for a touchdown.
No. 82: OL Billy Bryan
Bryan was drafted by the Broncos in 1977 and retired in 1988, spending his entire time in the NFL with the organization. He was a member of the team for their Super Bowl appearances in 1977, 1986, and 1987. Bryan started 151 career games and is regarded as one of the best interior offensive lineman to ever don the orange and blue.
No. 81: S TJ Ward
An enforcer at safety, Ward helped the 2015 Denver team field one of the most imposing defenses of all-time, as previously mentioned. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2014 with two interceptions and two sacks, but his stats don’t tell the whole story. He would often guard the opposing team’s tight ends, and with many of the great tight ends standing in the way of a championship, it was essential to success. During the third quarter of Super Bowl 50, when the score was still 16-7, his interception halted the Carolina Panthers' drive in Denver territory and kept the game out of reach.