The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the 2024 semifinalists for the Senior candidates and Coach/Contributor categories on Wednesday. Among the semifinalists are four former Denver Broncos: linebacker Randy Gradishar, coach Mike Shanahan, late coach Dan Reeves and assistant coach Alex Gibbs.
Each of them has a very strong case for the Hall of Fame.
Randy Gradishar: Gradishar was the soul of the 1970s “Orange Crush,” in a time when defense was the main event in the NFL. Gradishar won the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 1978, was voted to seven Pro Bowls, was a first-team All-Pro in 1977 and 1978, and was a five-time All-Pro during his ten-year career. Players from his era with similar statistics (Robert Brazile 10 seasons/7 Pro Bowls, Jack Ham 12 seasons/8 Pro Bowls, Ted Hendricks 15 seasons/8 Pro Bowls, Jack Lambert 11 seasons/9 Pro Bowls) all reached the Hall of Fame. Gradishar may be helped by the Hall of Fame’s new Senior Committee policy, which will allow the committee to select a maximum of three players to the Hall of Fame for the next two years. Gradishar’s anxiously-awaited selection would right a serious wrong for all of Broncos Country.
Dan Reeves: Reeves was the coach for three Broncos teams who went to the Super Bowl (1986, 1987, 1989). Reeves is second all-time for the franchise in games coached and games won. He is fifth all-time in winning percentage in Denver history (.601), and as a coach and player (he played as a halfback, the equivalent of today’s fullback/tight end), appeared in nine Super Bowls. He is also in the Broncos’ Ring of Fame. Reeves passed away in 2022.
Mike Shanahan: Shanahan’s Hall of Fame resume writes itself. He is the winningest coach in franchise history, is a three-time Super Bowl champion, developed multiple 1,000-yard rushers and helped Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway over the hump to win back-to-back championships in 1997-98. Shanahan is a Broncos Ring of Fame member.
Alex Gibbs: Gibbs coached the Broncos’ offensive line three different times, as offensive line coach (1984-1987, 1995-2003) and as an offensive line consultant (2013). Behind Gibbs’ lines, Denver had multiple 1,000-yard rushers in a season, and a historic 2,000-yard season from Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis in 1998. Gibbs was instrumental in helping protect an aging Elway in the twilight of his career, and was a visionary in the world of zone-blocking schemes. Gibbs passed away in 2021.
The latest inductee to the Hall of Fame from the Broncos is former linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who is part of the Hall’s 2023 class.