A Denver Broncos legend has moved one step closer to being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Former Broncos linebacker Randy Gradishar is one of 25 semifinalists in the Seniors category, who will advance to the next round. Eligible players did not play an NFL game after the 1996 season.
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Broncos: Gradishar Deserves to Be in the Hall of Fame
Gradishar is one of the greatest Broncos of all time, and he collected many accolades throughout his career. He won Defensive Player of the Year in 1978. He was also a five-time All-Pro, and he was selected to seven Pro Bowls.
Given his resume, it is surprising that Gradishar is not already in the Hall of Fame.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold, Gradishar is the only Hall of Fame eligible-player with at least seven Pro Bowl selections, multiple first-team All-Pro selections, and a Defensive Player of the Year award to not be inducted.
Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen once said Gradishar “belongs in the Hall of Fame”.
“If you ask me to name the five best linebackers I played against or had a chance to cover in my broadcasting career, Randy Gradishar would be on that list,” Olsen said. “He was the kind of player that I would have loved to have as a teammate. There is no question about credentials here; Randy Gradishar belongs in the Hall of Fame.”
Gradishar’s Hall of Fame enshrinement is long overdue.
The Seniors Category is Filled With All-Time Greats
The other 24 finalists are Ken Anderson, Maxie Baughan, Mark Clayton, Roger Craig, LaVern Dilweg, Lester Hayes, Chris Hinton, Chuck Howley, Cecil Isbell, Joe Jacoby, Billie “White Shoes” Johnson, Mike Kenn, Joe Klecko, Bob Kuechenberg, George Kunz, Jim Marshall, Clay Matthews Jr., Eddie Meador, Stanley Morgan, Tommy Nobis, Ken Riley, Sterling Sharpe, Otis Taylor, and Everson Walls.
There are many notable names on that list, and the voters will face some difficult decisions moving forward.
Sharpe was a prolific wide receiver with the Green Bay Packers. He led the NFL in receptions three times (1989, 1992, 1993). Sharpe played seven NFL seasons, and he made the Pro Bowl five times.
Hinton is well-known for being traded for John Elway on draft night, but Hinton was a legend in his own right. He was one of the best offensive linemen of his era, and he was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection.
Hayes was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1980. He was a two-time Super Bowl Champion and a six-time All-Pro. He recorded 39 career interceptions.
In prior years, the Pro Football Hall of Fame could only enshrine one player per year in the Seniors category. However, that rule was changed earlier this year, and a maximum of three Seniors players can now be inducted.
The change was much-needed, as there is an overabundance of Hall of Fame-worthy players in the Seniors category. Hopefully, Gradishar can finally get the recognition he deserves.