On Feb. 4, a committee of 46 people will meet for hours on end, discussing who best deserves a place in football immortality: the Hall of Fame. With thousands of players having suited up throughout the years of the NFL, only a select few each year get to don a golden jacket.

This year, Broncos fans are graced with having four former Broncos as Hall of Fame finalists: Terrell Davis, John Lynch, Brian Dawkins, and Ty Law. And while the media and fans’ attention has been spent this young offseason clamoring for support to get Terrell Davis into the Hall of Fame, one player in particular seems to get left out of Hall of Fame conversation.

Steve Atwater, one of the best players in Denver Broncos history, deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

To be clear, this is not an argument that the other three aren’t worthy of being put into the Hall of Fame, or that Atwater should be chosen over the others. But rather a rally for support that a franchise player that gets overlooked by the media and spotlight to finally get the credit he deserves. Atwater wasn’t even a semi-finalist, which is a travesty.

Atwater came into the league in 1989 and immediately made his presence known. During his rookie campaign, Atwater helped turn around a meddling Denver defense, contributing 129 tackles and leading that same Denver defense to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Following up his impressive rookie season, Atwater came back with an incredible 173 tackle sophomore campaign, en route to his first Pro Bowl. From 1990 to 1996, Atwater was selected to seven straight Pro Bowls while dominating the league at the safety position.

Atwater was a rare blend of athletic talent and football IQ, which allowed him to come down in the box to defend against the run, while also holding his own in coverage.

Though he did not make the Pro Bowl in 1997, he did become a Super Bowl champion. While Super Bowl XXXII will always be associated with John Elway‘s fearless “helicopter dive,” the Super Bowl highlight that often follows is Atwater famed vicious hit that knocked himself, a fellow Broncos defensive back and a Green Bay wide receiver unconscious.

Playing for teammates, such as Elway, owner Pat Bowlen, and the city of Denver’s first ever Super Bowl, Atwater was a role model “anything to win/leave it all on the field” player that helped the Broncos capture its elusive first championship.

A list of Atwater’s impressive career stats can be found here, including his 1998 season, which sent him to the Pro Bowl for the eighth time. Atwater’s eighth Pro Bowl appearance is the third most of any player to wear a Broncos uniform, only behind HOFer Elway and (presumed) future HOFer Champ Bailey.

Sadly, after being selected as a 2016 NFL Hall of Fame finalist, Atwater was eliminated from this year’s Hall of Fame contention after the 2017 finalists were announced. As Broncos fans hope to see legends Terrell Davis and John Lynch get voted in, Atwater’s golden jacket will have to wait another year.

After an impressive career highlighted by eight Pro Bowl selections and two first team All-Pro selections, Steve Atwater has waited long enough to get the credit he deserves. When voting begins for the 2018 Hall of Fame class, the committee should keep this highlight, Atwater’s first of many national highlights, fresh in their minds.


Photo courtesy of DenverBroncos.com