It’s beyond time to put Randy Gradishar in the Hall of Fame

Credit: AP Photos

Randy Gradishar, Hall of Famer.

Yeah, we said it. And, with good reason, too.

Gradishar — who was the 1978 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and long-time leader of the “Orange Crush” — will soon meet with the Professional Football Hall of Fame’s senior committee per Broncos PR guru Patrick Smyth. And as you can see, Chris Mortensen agrees:

One great way to determine if a player is worthy of the Hall of Fame is by putting his accolades up against his contemporaries, as Smyth did there, noting his 7 Pro Bowl appearances help prove how dominant Gradishar was.

The ageless Jim Saccomano added this:

Randy Gradishar is an unequivocal Hall of Famer. Football Encyclopedia has called him one of 250 greatest players ever…

What’s sad for the linebacker extraordinaire is he’s been forgotten by the Hall of Fame committee for so long. Denver Broncos fans, and the organization, are used to it, though; Floyd Little had to wait an entire 35 years after his retirement to be inducted.

The first-ever Broncos player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame was John Elway, in 2004, and he only got in because the committee could no longer ignore Denver due to the legendary quarterback. In fact, I was there, at Elway’s induction ceremony and so was Gradishar, walking around Canton, OH and signing autographs. Broncomaniacs yelled at him that he deserved to be in, but Gradishar didn’t grand-stand, he just smiled and went on his way.

Since Elway was inducted, the flood gates have opened, a bit. Gary Zimmerman, who played in Denver for the last five years of his 12-year career, got in in 2008. Floyd Little was inducted in 2010, then Shannon Sharpe was enshrined in 2011. And, finally, Terrell Davis was included in 2017.

Now, Gradishar seems to be the biggest glaring omission among many more; Karl Mecklenburg, Steve Atwater and Rod Smith to name a few.

More reasons he deserves to get into the Hall of Fame: Gradishar was also a two-time All-Pro — in 1977 and 1978 — being a crucial member of the defense which led the Broncos to their first-ever Super Bowl.

Pro Football Reference does a great job of comparing players across eras, and here’s who they say Gradishar stacks up with over the course of their careers: Dick Butkus, Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier and DeMarcus Ware. The first three are already in the Hall, and Ware will soon follow.

Other Broncos who will/should be in soon:

  • Champ Bailey, eligible 2019
  • Peyton Manning, eligible 2021
  • DeMarcus Ware, eligible 2022
  • Pat Bowlen, eligible NOW
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