You tossers! You had one job to do!
The so-called esteemed men and women of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee royally ballsed up this year by again overlooking Denver Broncos legend Steve Atwater.
It is no secret that #27 and Broncos owner Pat Bowlen have a bond that goes back to when Atwater was a first-round draft pick.
Remember, it was Atwater who, last year, delivered the news to Mr. B that he was a finalist in the contributor category.
It would have been fitting beyond expression that the time to correct the mistake of Atwater not being in the Hall of Fame is the time that the Hall finally accepted Mr. B.
The latter happened, the former did not.
The Broncos will have seven Hall of Famers in August 2019, assuming we’re not counting Brian Dawkins (Philadelphia) or Ty Law (New England) who were in Denver at the end of their respective careers.
Yes, Mr. B going in alongside another of his favorites in Champ Bailey is unique, but it could have been exceptional with the induction of Atwater as well.
We should be happy for the Bowlen family and everyone lucky enough to know Mr. B, we should be happy also for Champ, a first-ballot Hall of Famer and — tragically — the first Broncos defender to be enshrined.
But that’s just it. As great a player Champ was, and as great a person as he is, he shouldn’t be the first Broncos defender in the Hall of Fame. Not even the second.
That’s an honor that shouldn’t belong to Atwater either, because the Broncos can go back further and point to Randy Gradishar as another exceptional player consistently overlooked. See also: Tom Jackson, Rod Smith, Tom Nalen, Karl Mecklenburg, and John Lynch.
"During an 11-year @NFL career [@SteveAtwater27] was named to eight Pro Bowls, won two Super Bowls rings [and was] a starter on the All-Decade team of the ‘90s."— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 29, 2017
Atwater's @ProFootballHOF case via @talkoffamenet » https://t.co/3qNQSEnrYE pic.twitter.com/mtGYU0opQw
Those tasked with honoring the best of the best to grace the gridiron failed again. The bias remains but that’s to be expected when you consider John Elway was the first Bronco enshrined in 2004.
What do they have against Atwater? Is it merely East Coast bias, not enough places and too many talented players, or something more than that?
Whatever it is, the Broncos have been treated woefully by the Hall of Fame considering the club’s achievements over the years.
Perhaps, however, there is hope after all. Our friend Ryan Koenigsberg from BSN Denver, who is in Atlanta this weekend, had this to report Saturday night.
From what I have heard, Steve Atwater did really well in the room this year.— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) February 2, 2019
The word “momentum” has been thrown around a lot in regards to his name.
As I said below, you could tell throughout the week that HOF voters were starting to warm up to his name.
That there is momentum building around Atwater has to be a good thing.
With talk that the 2020 class could be extended to celebrate the NFL’s centenary, the door to the Hall of Fame would be wide open for some snubbed Broncos to make it after years of coming up short.
Some might see that as a cheap way of doing it, but the Hall of Fame is the Hall of Fame. It makes no difference if someone is a first-ballot inductee or they made it a decade later: they’re all Hall of Famers.
The truth remains that Steve Atwater should be in the Hall of Fame. Make all the arguments you want for other players, but few have better credentials than #27.
For too long, Broncos Country celebrates when the Hall of Fame finally gets it right. The Mad Fanatic even wrote a song commemorating Terrell Davis earning his gold jacket in 2018 and performed at his party in Canton.
Congratulations to Mr. B and Champ Bailey. They join a slowly-growing group of the best to do it in Orange and Blue.
Peyton Manning will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2021, and DeMarcus Ware will follow in 2022, but while these recently retired players will get in on the first attempt, one can’t help but look back on those snubbed.
As much as the campaign will go on to get Atwater into the Hall of Fame, Broncos Country should not rest until the Hall of Fame also recognizes Gradishar, Mecklenburg, and Lynch.
Even with that quartet in the Hall of Fame, there will be more work to do. Broncos Country needs to keep banging on the door of the Hall of Fame to make sure they finally get it right for the many other Broncos players ignored.