DENVER — Today’s snubbing of Randy Gradishar for the Hall of Fame is simply a head scratcher.

What does it take?

Gradishar was the best player on one of the best defenses in NFL history. The Steeler Curtain of the 70s has 5 Hall of Famers after safety Donnie Shell was elected today. The Orange Crush still has zero.

Gradishar had 7 Pro Bowls and an NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. Instead, the blue-ribbon panel elected Bears offensive tackle Jimbo Covert, who had just 2 Pro Bowls.

And it wasn’t just what Gradishar did on the field. The Broncos were a laughing stock until the Orange Crush ignited Broncomania in the 70s. Before there was Elway, before Pat Bowlen bought the team, there was Gradishar. He brought legitimacy to the franchise with that first Super Bowl team in 77.

How does a franchise that’s been to 8 Super Bowls have just one defensive player in the Hall of Fame? Champ Bailey is not the only one worthy.

The Hall of Fame bias against the Broncos is nothing new. And the Hall voters had been doing a better job lately remembering the Broncos are in the NFL. Seven have been elected in the past 12 years.

But when it comes to Gradishar and the Orange Crush, Hall voters lack awareness of how dominant that defense was. Besides Gradishar, Louis Wright and Billy Thompson should be Hall of Famers, too. And then Karl Mecklenburg.

But Gradishar has to get in first. He’s now waited 31 years too long.

A silver lining perhaps: With the snubbing of Gradishar, Hall of Fame voters better elect Steve Atwater from the modern-era ballot on Feb. 1.

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