The 12 Biggest Fan Favorites in Denver Broncos History

Vince SapienzaCorrespondent IIIAugust 24, 2011

The 12 Biggest Fan Favorites in Denver Broncos History

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    Let me first say this is not another article about whether Tim Tebow will be traded (he will not), but I would be lying if I were to say he is not on this list.

    As the years go by, the NFL is driven by fans with their comments, blogs, and interaction with their favorite team and players. Tim Tebow is not the first fan favorite that the Broncos have seen in their history, he is actually just one of many.

    The Broncos have had some great moments in their history which undoubtedly cause fans to pick out players who are not necessarily the best players, but their favorite players. 

    Michael Vick is one of the best players on the Philadelphia Eagles, but he is not necessarily a fan favorite. The Broncos have had a slew of fan favorites over the years, so without further ado, here we go.

    Please chime in and let me know who your favorite Bronco of all time is.

Tim Tebow

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    I have never seen such a polarizing figure in all of sports who has not started in more than three meaningful games in an NFL season.

    Tebow has some of the most extreme followers in all of sports due to his religion, can-do attitude, and willingness to never give up. Analysts and nay-sayers swear that he will never make it in the NFL, but whether or not he does, he is a Broncos fan favorite. 

    Tebow may not get much love with the media, but when it comes to his home crowd, he is definitely the most supported Bronco in franchise history.

Ed McCaffrey

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    This may me be an author's bias, but Eddie Mac was one of the most underrated players that I have ever seen in the NFL. 

    McCaffrey was always the No. 2 guy behind Rod Smith, but he was always the one making the tough catches in traffic or the impossible grab over the shoulders. 

    He amassed 565 catches and 55 touchdowns in his career, but my favorite memory of No. 87 is week one of the 2001 season where the Broncos hosted a Monday Night Football game at their brand-new stadium Invesco Field at Mile High.

    McCaffrey went up for what would be his sixth reception and in the process broke his leg.

    Now I am not happy he broke his leg, but it just showed what an iron man he was not just in that game, but his entire career. 

Tom Jackson

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    Tom Jackson, the now sidekick to Chris Berman on ESPN. 

    That is not why he is a fan favorite of the Denver Broncos, but instead it was his role on the famous Orange Crush defense in the mid-70's. 

    Jackson was a four-time All-Pro and a three-time Pro Bowler in a 13-year career where he amassed 20 interceptions, 13 sacks, and scored three touchdowns as a linebacker for the Broncos. 

Steve Watson

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    A player Broncos fans loved to watch was wideout Steve Watson. A player I can only imagine, based on everything I have ever read and heard of him, reminds me of an Eddie Mac: a tough guy who is not afraid to get dirty and get catches in traffic.

    Watson was inducted to the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame and played eight tough years for the Denver Broncos. 

Terrell Davis

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    One of the best stories to come from the Denver Broncos organization is the story of a sixth-string running back who was able to make his mark on a football team in a preseason game with one play. 

    Davis burst onto the scene for the Denver Broncos after he made a hellacious hit that caught the eye of the Broncos coaching staff along with his fellow players. 

    Davis went on to become a 2,000 yard back (one of six) and win two Super Bowl trophies, including a Super Bowl XXXII MVP award. His fearless play when suffering from migraines in the Super Bowl highlights the type of sacrifice for the team and its fans.

    The guy was on on Sesame Street for goodness sake; TD hit every demographic.

Randy Gradishar

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    A man who was also a part of the infamous Orange Crush defense was linebacker Randy Gradishar.

    Gradishar is an absolute fan favorite for his crushing blows to running backs and hard-working nature that led the Broncos to a flurry of wins. Gradishar is a staple in the Broncos fan base, always signing autographs for fans, appearing at every Broncos event that he can, and a big helper in the community.

    Gradishar amassed over 2,000 tackles in his short nine-year career. Woody Hayes even called Gradishar "the best linebacker I ever coached."  That is no doubt one of the best football compliments anyone can ever hear. 

Alfred Williams

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    Alfred Williams was one of the most beloved Broncos in recent memory. Williams was a linebacker turned defensive end who was a terror on the outside for opposing quarterbacks.

    Williams finished his career with nearly 60 sacks and was a two-time Super Bowl champion and an All-Pro. 

    Williams is now a staple in Denver as the co-host for the radio show "The Drive" and also a color commentator for Broncos games on the local Denver station. 

Tom Nalen

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    A seventh-round pick back in 1994, Tom Nalen had been at the center of the Broncos offense for 14 seasons.

    Nalen has helped paved the way for multiple 1,000-yard rushers and one very special 2,000-yard runner in Terrell Davis. Nalen was an iron man, playing in 194 games and starting in 188 of them.

    Broncos fans knew they could always rely on a nice push up the middle due to their anchor in Nalen. 

John Elway

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    I feel this one is pretty obvious. Elway might not have been the most loved player by the Broncos faithful in 1983, but he sure did win the hearts of all Broncos fans late in his career.

    Elway is the best player ever to play for the Denver Broncos and he is clearly a fan favorite. Elway's steakhouse is a fan favorite and his car dealerships seem to be doing well.

    However, what really stood out to me was the overwhelming support that he received when he stepped into the captain's chair of the Broncos front office.

    A man with no experience in the front office other than owning an Arena Football team (won a championship) has received nothing but support and praise. Elway will continue to be a favorite if he can make the Broncos win and at the same time make Tebow win.

    John Elway has and will always have the city key to not only Denver, but Colorado.

Champ Bailey

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    In what was one of the most talked-about blockbuster trades of all-time, the Broncos traded away ever efficient Clinton Portis for Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey.

    The Broncos did end up winning that trade due to the productivity of the corner position and has been a major help to a shaky-at-best defense over the years. 

    Bailey, a future Hall of Famer, is a constant blessing in the Denver community and hands-down one of the favorites on the Broncos squad and will continue to be for many years. 

Al Wilson

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    The heart of the Denver Broncos defense for seven years, Al Wilson. He may not have always been the most athletic player on the field, but he definitely was one of the hardest hitters on the field at all times. 

    Wilson was also one of the best leaders the Broncos have had in years, and when he left, they had to scramble to try and fill a hole that used to never worry the team. Wilson was nothing but heart and soul and he truly left everything he had on the field.

    Wilson totaled 580 tackles in his career with 20.5 sacks.

Jason Elam

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    For a thankless position on the field that does not get a lot of love unless they make the winning field goal with no time left in the game, Jason Elam made it look easy.

    Elam was a constant in the special teams and very reliable hitting just over 80 percent of his field goal tries. Elam is tied for longest field goal ever with a 63-yarder. 

    Elam played 14 years for the Broncos before signing with the Atlanta Falcons for two years and then retiring- as a Bronco. 

Best of the Rest

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    Now there are countless of other fan favorites due to the fact that every fan has their own personal favorite. One of my personal favorites was lineman Mark Schlereth due to his gritty, nose-in-the-mud type attitude.

    Others that were definitely fan favorites include, but are not limited to:

    Shannon Sharpe, Gary Zimmerman, Vance Johnson, Jake Plummer, John Mobley, John Lynch, Howard Griffith, Karl Mecklenburg, Floyd Little, Sammy Winder, Steve Atwater, Dennis Smith, Mike Anderson, Trevor Pryce, Rulon Jones, Rich Karlis, and more.

    Now it is your turn, sound off and let me know who your favorite players were/are!