Three deserving Broncos one step closer to getting their Hall of Fame due
Jul 7, 2022, 3:48 PM
(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Randy Gradishar, Dan Reeves and Mike Shanahan all have resumes worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Induction has been another matter entirely. But each moved one small step closer when they were named as semifinalists for the seniors and contributors/coaches pools for the 2023 Hall of Fame class on Thursday.
Still, they have plenty of obstacles to overcome. Gradishar is one of 24 seniors semifinalists, while Reeves and Shanahan are two of 29 contributors/coaches semifinalists.
Twelve from each pool will become finalists. Those names will be announced July 27.
Up to three of the 12 seniors finalists will be voted on by the full Hall of Fame selection committee next February, one day before Super Bowl LVII. But just one coach or contributor will be forwarded to the full committee.
Gradishar, a finalist from the modern-era group (retired in the previous 25 years) in 2008, has a resume comparable to that of Hall of Famer Harry Carson, who played his entire career (1976-88) for the New York Giants. Gradishar made seven Pro Bowls in his 10-season career (1974-83); Carson made nine in his 13-year run. But Carson was inducted in 2006, while Gradishar’s wait has continued.
The “Orange Crush” ringleader is also one of 10 linebackers in NFL history with at least 20 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries and 7 Pro Bowl appearances. All of the other nine are in the Hall of Fame, while Gradishar’s wait persisted.
Surprisingly, Gradishar was not included in the expanded group of seniors that comprised the Hall of Fame’s centennial class of 2020. That year, the seniors pool expanded to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the NFL’s founding.
Reeves, who died at age 77 on New Year’s Day of this year, is not yet in the Hall of Fame despite guiding his teams to four Super Bowls during his 23 seasons as a head coach with the Broncos (1981-92), Giants (1993-96) and Atlanta Falcons (1997-2003). He is the only coach with four Super Bowl appearances to not be inducted. The other two men who lost four Super Bowls as head coaches without a win — Bud Grant and Marv Levy — are in the Hall of Fame.
Shanahan, who turns 70 in August, guided the Broncos to back-to-back world titles in the 1997 and 1998 seasons. His influence continues to be felt today through a coaching tree that includes son Kyle Shanahan, Rams coach Sean McVay and Packers coach Matt LaFleur.
Also strengthening the case for Shanahan’s induction are recent inductees Tom Flores, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher. Like Shanahan, Flores and Johnson won two Super Bowls as head coaches. Cowher had a single Super Bowl win as head coach from a 15-season (1992-2006) run with the Pittsburgh Steelers.