A fifth Bronco in the Hall of Fame?

Photo courtesy of the Denver Broncos

San Diego: Steve Atwater makes an interception and returns it for a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, CA on November 30, 1997.

(Photos courtesy of the Eric Baake/Denver Broncos)

Talk of Fame Network

The Green Bay Packers won five NFL championships in the 1960s and have been rewarded with 11 busts in Canton for players from that era. The Pittsburgh Steelers won four Super Bowls in the 1970s and have been rewarded with nine busts for players off those teams.

The Denver Broncos have gone to eight Super Bowls and won three of them. But the Broncos remain one of the most under-represented teams in Canton with just four players in the Hall of Fame: quarterback John Elway, tight end Shannon Sharpe, offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman and running back Floyd Little. And Little snuck into the Hall as a senior candidate.

Safety Steve Atwater was an all-decade choice for the 1990s and joined Elway, Sharpe and Zimmerman on Denver’s back-to-back NFL champions in 1997-98. He became a Hall-of-Fame finalist for the first time for the Class of 2016 but was passed over. The public believes Atwater deserves another shot in the room before the selection committee.

In last week’s Talk of Fame Network poll, we asked our listeners and readers to identify the most deserving safety not in the Hall of Fame. Atwater won in a landslide, receiving 56 percent of the vote. Kenny Easley of the Seattle Seahawks was next with 16 percent, followed Darren Woodson of the Dallas Cowboys at 10 percent. Bring up the rear, all with six percent of the vote, were John Lynch (Bucs, Broncos), Eddie Meador (Rams) and Johnny Robinson (Chiefs).

Atwater played 11 seasons and was selected for eight Pro Bowls. Easley, Meador and Robinson also were NFL all-decade selections.

Previous State Your Case: Cecil Isbell
Next Who's the best wide receiver not in the Hall of Fame?


  1. James
    February 24, 2016

    Atwater absolutely deserves to be in the HOF , the first person mentioned when Darren Woodson was asked to name who should be in the HOF that was not in was Steve Atwater. He helped change the game as Denver often used him as a hybrid type player – Playing him up on the line of scrimmage. Many forget how historical the win was in SB 32 as the AFC had lost 13 straight coming into SB 32 and a hugh underdog of 14 pts. The forced fumble from Atwaters hit on Favre was probably the key defensive play of the game. He could have easily been named SB 32 MVP – instead of Davis. I do not think the Broncos could have won that SB w/o Steve Atwater. I think he more than deserves to be the 5th Bronco in the HOF and more importantly the first Bronco defensive player in the HOF. Think about it – Back to Back SB wins and not one HOF worthy defensive player in the eyes of the 46 HOF sportswriter voting committee. That just does not pass the eye test or the smell test.It is time for the Smiling Assasin to take his place in the HOF. Thank you for conducting the poll.

  2. Dino Labbate
    February 24, 2016

    Two words for you: Jack Tatum

  3. Rob
    February 26, 2016

    The Broncos have been to 8 Super Bowls not 7.

    • February 29, 2016

      You are correct, sir. Thanks for the note. Will be updated … and you will be this week’s rewrite editor. Thanks again, Rob.

  4. bachslunch
    March 5, 2016

    Five words regarding Jack Tatum and the HoF: you’ve got to be kidding. Tatum was not once a 1st team all pro, went to only 3 pro bowls, and is on no all decade teams. Can think of at least 12 Senior eligible safeties not in the HoF who are more deserving: Bobby Dillon, Jimmy Patton, Johnny Robinson, Eddie Meador, Cliff Harris, Donnie Shell, Dick Anderson, Jake Scott, Nolan Cromwell, Kenny Easley, Deron Cherry, and (as of next year) Joey Browner. Heck, I can think of two Raider Senior DBs who are more deserving than Tatum — Dave Grayson and (if you give him a pass on stickum use) Lester Hayes.

  5. bachslunch
    March 5, 2016

    I think Steve Atwater is definitely HoF deserving. His postseason honors profile is 2/8/90s, plenty good enough. The good news is that he just broke through into the finals this year, and he’s hopefully primed to get elected in a couple years after John Lynch, likely followed in order by Brian Dawkins, Ed Reed, and Troy Polamalu. Both Darren Woodson and Leroy Butler are deserving as well, and they have respectively 12 and 10 years of eligibility left — hopefully they make it in before then.

    The Broncos most deserving non-Senior otherwise may or may not make it in and certainly deserves election, that being Karl Mecklenburg. He has about three eligible years left, and if he makes the finals next year, he still has a chance. Hope it happens for him.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.