KUSA – Smile, Mr. B.
You’re going to have plenty of Broncos company when Pro Football Hall of Fame voters gather to discuss their 18 finalists for the class of 2019.
Pat Bowlen, the Broncos’ beloved owner, is a contributor finalist who will go straight to the “Yes” or “No” vote on Super Bowl LIII eve, February 2 in Atlanta.
He will be joined on the Hall of Fame finalist ballot by former Broncos safeties Steve Atwater and John Lynch and cornerback Champ Bailey, who made the cutdown Thursday from top 25 modern-era semifinalist round to the top 15 finalists.
Ty Law, who played the final seven games of his 15-year career that was spent mostly with the New England Patriots, is another top 15 modern-era finalist, as is former Boulder Fairview High School star Tony Boselli, who was a standout left tackle for Sam Pagano’s Boulder Fairview High School team.
“Hopefully, I do get in and I’ll have a lot of nice things to say about Mr. B,’’ Bailey said from a Georgia golf course.
Champ wasn’t exactly sweating his top 15 selection.
"You're informing me because I'm not paying attention right now,’’ he said in a phone call with 9NEWS. “I'm on the golf course tearing up grass.''
He was out with his two youngest sons Brayden and Jace.
So, how’s Champ's golf game?
"Terrible,'’ he said.
Bailey played the final 10 seasons of his 15-year career with the Broncos. His 12 Pro Bowls are the most ever for an NFL cornerback. He received four such honors in his first five seasons with Washington; then eight more after his 2004 trade to Broncos.
Bailey became a top 15 finalist in his first year of eligibility – hardly a surprise, especially when recalling his 2005-06 seasons when he combined for 19 interceptions and 401 return yards – including his 100-yard pick off Tom Brady in a second-round AFC playoff game at then Invesco Field at Mile High -- and three touchdowns.
“I would think I would have got this far but the process is the process,’’ Bailey said. “It’s out of my control. I wouldn’t have been totally surprised if I didn’t, but at the same time I know what I’ve done, and I know how I stack up against the rest. Now you just got to wait and let it happen.’’
Atwater played 10 seasons with the Broncos and one more with the Jets. He made eight Pro Bowls, all with the Broncos. It’s the second time he’s been a finalist, first since 2016.
Atwater found out about his top 15 selection like everybody else – while watching the selection show on TV.
“I was in the other room and I heard they were talking about me,’’ he said. “I went in and they were talking about Ty Law and other guys. It was good stuff, man. I’m happy, very happy.
“Hoping me and Mr. B can go in and John Lynch and Champ Bailey. Have they called Meck, yet?’’
Nope, they never did. In the biggest snub of the evening, Broncos’ outside/inside linebacker and defensive lineman Karl Mecklenburg did not make the final 15 in his final year of modern-era eligibility. A top 25 semifinalist eight consecutive years, Mecklenburg never made it to the finals. He now moves to the pool of senior candidates, where he will join the likes of Randy Gradishar, Louis Wright and Tom Jackson.
Lynch, a safety who played 11 years for Tampa Bay and four with the Broncos, is a modern-era finalist for a sixth consecutive year.
Now the San Francisco 49ers general manager, Lynch made four Pro Bowls in his four seasons in Denver and is in the Broncos’ Ring of Fame.
Bowlen, who has been dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, and former Dallas Cowboys scout Gil Brandt are the two contributor finalists while former Kansas City Chiefs safety Johnny Robinson is the senior nominee.
Besides Atwater, Bailey, Boselli, Law and Lynch, the other 10 modern-era finalists are tight end Tony Gonzalez, safety Ed Reed, receiver Isaac Bruce, running back Edgerrin James, guards Steve Hutchinson and Alan Faneca, center Kevin Mawae, defensive lineman Richard Seymour and head coaches Don Coryell and Tom Flores.