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Rod Smith, Tom Nalen, Brandon Marshall among Broncos nominated for Hall of Fame

Among 173 modern-era player HOF nominees, 13 once played for Broncos, including Al Wilson, Mark Schlereth, Jason Elam.

DENVER — Brandon Marshall, a Broncos' fourth-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft who had three, 100-catch seasons for the team, is among 13 former Denver players who were nominated Tuesday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2024.

There were 173 modern-era players nominees in all. Marshall may have the best chance among former Broncos of making it to the next round of 25 semifinalists as he finished his career with 970 catches -- which still ranks 16th all-time with eight of those pass-catchers ranked ahead of him already in the Hall of Fame -- for 12,351 yards (23rd all time) and 83 touchdowns (tied for 25th).

Granted, Marshall never played on a playoff team but if the postseason were a top criteria for receivers, the Broncos' Rod Smith would have been a top-25 semifinalist by now.

The 13 former Broncos who were nominated for the HOF:

Receivers: Marshall, Smith, Wes Welker

Running backs: Glyn Milburn (also a returner), Jamaal Charles

Offensive linemen: Tom Nalen, Mark Schlereth

Defensive linemen: Neil Smith. Simeon Rice, Jamal Williams

Inside linebacker: Al Wilson 

Defensive back: Dre' Bly

Kicker: Jason Elam

From this list, only Rice, who barely played for the Broncos in 2007, has previously been a top 25 semifinalist, which he reached one time in 2020.

Smith, Nalen and Wilson were the only players who spent their entire career with the Broncos.

Smith is still the Broncos' all-time leader in receptions (849), receiving yards (11,389) and touchdown catches (68). He also made the signature play in Super Bowl XXXIII, an 80-yard touchdown reception on a pass thrown by John Elway, and was considered one of the best blocking receivers in the modern NFL.

Nalen was a five-time Pro Bowl center, a three-time All-Pro selection and the 2003 NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year. He blocked for 10 1,000-yard rushers.

Wilson was a five-time Pro Bowler whose career was cut short by a neck injury.

Schlereth is a rare player who has a better chance of making the Pro Football Hall of Fame than he does of becoming a single team's Ring of Famer. Schlereth played 12 seasons in all -- six for Washington and six for the Broncos -- starting for three Super Bowl championship teams and earning two Pro Bowl nods.

Elam played 15 of his 17 seasons with the Broncos and remains their all-time leading scorer by a wide margin. He is 8th all-time among NFL scorers with 1,983 points and tied for 10th with 436 field goals.

The 173 nominees will be cut down to 25 in November. Eventually, only five modern-era players can be elected to the Hall of Fame in one class.


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