KUSA—It’s been a rough year for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Poor field conditions led to the cancelation of the annual Hall of Fame preseason game. The Hall of Fame contributor committee made the absurd nomination of active Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones instead of Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen – a decision widely criticized and ridiculed by fans and media alike.
More recently, the Hall of Fame doubled-down on its stance to not allow family members of players inducted posthumously to receive the prestigious mementos of the Gold Jacket and ring.
Perhaps, the Hall can begin to recover from its public relations nightmare by finally bronzing the bust of Broncos’ running back Terrell Davis.
Davis is one five players with strong Bronco ties to make the modern-era cut down to 26 players this week. He joins linebacker/defensive end Karl Mecklenburg and safeties Steve Atwater, John Lynch and Brian Dawkins.
The list of 26 also includes Ty Law, a longtime New England Patriot cornerback who played seven games for the Broncos and head coach Josh McDaniels in their forgettable season of 2010, and Boulder native Tony Boselli, who played offensive tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Broncos who were among the 94 Hall of Fame nominations back in September but were snubbed from the top 26 semifinalist list: Receiver Rod Smith, center Tom Nalen, safety Dennis Smith and coach Dan Reeves.
Davis – a former NFL MVP and the best postseason running back in league history -- has been a top 25 or 26 semifinalist all 11 years that he’s been eligible for Hall consideration. He reached the 15-man finalist group each of the past two years.
An argument can be made that given their team’s success in the past 40 years, the Broncos are the most underrepresented franchise in the Hall of Fame. There are just four players with strong Broncos’ playing resumes who are enshrined in Canton’s hallowed halls: John Elway, Floyd Little, Shannon Sharpe and Gary Zimmerman.
Compare that to the Buffalo Bills, who have 10 representatives in the Hall of Fame; Kansas City Chiefs (11), Detroit Lions (15), and Cleveland Browns (16). The Lions and Browns have never played in a Super Bowl. The Bills have never won one. The Chiefs haven’t appeared in a Super Bowl since the 1970 merger.
The Broncos have played in eight Super Bowls since 1977, winning three.
Lynch and Davis, in that order, have the best chance among Broncos to get elected in the class of 2017. Both made the cut down from 15 to 10 on the modern-era ballot last year, before receiving the disappointment they were not among the five elected.
Ordinarily, those who finish No. 6-10 in the balloting one year are pushed to the front the next year by the 48-person selection committee. Exceptions are made for newly eligible candidates who are considered to have rare first-ballot distinction. Davis may be encountering such a candidate this time in former San Diego Charger running back LaDainian Tomlinson.
Lynch, who played 11 of his 15 seasons with the Tampa Bay Bucs, and Atwater were both among the 15-man finalists last year. Their safety group became more competitive this year with the inclusion of Dawkins, who played 13 of his 16 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Mecklenburg is a semifinalist for the sixth time but he has never made it “to the room” as a top 15 finalist.
The group of 26 semifinalists will be whittled to 15 finalists in early January. The final Hall of Fame vote for the class of 2017 will be made on Feb. 4, the eve of Super Bowl 51, in Houston.