Tom Jackson was there and so were Louis Wright, the great Rubin Carter, Dennis Smith, Rod Smith, Craig Morton, Jim Turner, Steve Watson, Steve Foley, Rick Upchurch, Rich “Tombstone” Jackson, John Elway, Simon Fletcher, Karl Mecklenburg, Steve Foley, Bucky Dilts, Ron Egloff, Larry Evans, Greg Boyd, Claudie Minor, Gary Zimmerman, Paul Howard and Terrell Davis, among many others.
And who stole the show? Nan Miller.
The highlight of the Broncos’ Ring of Fame induction/Pro Hall of Fame ring dinner Friday night at When-Are-They-Going-Rename-Sports Authority Field at Mile High was a stirring 15-minute speech by the wife of the late legendary coach Red Miller.
The essence of coaching is to make others better and even at home, Red Miller brought out the best.
Nan Miller, speaking on behalf of her husband who passed away two months before he was to become the 32nd member of the Broncos’ Ring of Fame, honored Red with anecdotes of his impact and perseverance in his life and career.
She started with how Red was born and raised in a poor home with a dirt floor in Macomb, Ill. A homecoming king in high school and college.
Red Miller would have been proud of his wife’s sentiments.
Before the dinner – prime rib or crab cakes were the entrees – that was held in the Broncos’ home locker room, and the speeches, there was a social hour with so many of Miller’s former players from the 1960s, when he was a Broncos’ assistant, and from 1977-80, when he was the head coach who brought the franchise to its first Super Bowl, and first three playoff appearances.
And then came the unveiling of Miller’s Ring of Fame pillar in the rain.
“Just the comradery and the warmth,’’ Nan Miller said to a media gathering following the pillar unveiling.
"The fact that these big ol’ tough football players stick together like they do and they really come together when they need each other. They were there for Red three years ago when he was really sick. They were the ones that showed up and, ‘Come on Red, let’s go. Let’s go.’
“It’s amazing that they care after so long and it’s amazing that the people of Denver care like they do after 40 years. So many people come up to us and say, ‘I was there 40 years ago and it was wonderful. You brought so much joy to this town, we had so much fun and you did so much for all of us.’ That happens every day. Everywhere we went somebody would stop us and say thank you for what you did. It can’t help but make you feel good. He was very good to the fans and very appreciative. He never turned anybody down and he always talked to them, especially the kids. A very grateful, very humble person. He would be very proud tonight—inwardly proud.”
Her speech concluded with a poem Miller read in elementary school and later to his children and grandchildren “thousands of times.’’
Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That"maybe it couldn't, but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with a bit of a grin
On his face, if we worried, he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled that thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.
Terrell Davis also received his Hall of Fame ring from Dave Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Davis was the fifth Bronco inducted into the Hall of Fame in August, following Elway, Zimmerman, Floyd Little and Shannon Sharpe.
“It’s the gift that keeps on giving, I guess,’’ Davis said. “Someone told me, I think Tim Brown said,‘You won’t get any rest until August of next year.’ And I think he’s right, but here’s what’s great about it, it’s not like it’s a one-time deal. It’s been an event that’s been celebrated since February when I heard the announcement and we’re still celebrating."
“It’s really hard, I’m serious, to put this into words how much this means and how special this honor is. It’s not taken lightly. This is a huge honor. I don’t care, we can celebrate this the next four-five years. I’ll be here if they want to do it. If they want to do it, I’ll be here to celebrate it. But I’m enjoying it, I really am enjoying it. My family is enjoying this and we’ll continue to enjoy it."