Goal posts will frame name of famous Bronco
Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen decided on one final tribute to former quarterback John Elway as construction of Invesco Field at Mile High kicked into its final stages this summer.
Bowlen directed that Elway's name in the Ring of Fame be placed between the goal posts in the north end of the stadium. The ring of names of former Broncos greats swirls around the stadium on the facade of the second level of seating, just as it did at Mile High Stadium. There Elway also was enshrined in the north end but not between the goal posts.
From now on, each time a field goal or extra point is kicked between those uprights, the most famous football name in the Rocky Mountains will appear on television screens around the world.
"When we did the old Ring of Fame, they sort of went up randomly as they were picked," Bowlen said.
"I felt we should divide them into pre-1984 . . . the guys that didn't play for me -- not that they weren't important -- and the guys that played for me. That seemed to be a natural way to separate them.
"I think it's pretty well understood, at least in my mind, that in the time I've been here John is the greatest player ever to play for the Broncos. I think anyone who has been around the Broncos since the beginning would share that opinion."
The Ring of Fame is Bowlen's baby. He came up with the idea in 1984, when he became the majority owner of the franchise. There have been 16 inductees, and the Broncos will add two more during their regular season game against Baltimore on Sept. 30, when former linebacker Karl Mecklenburg and safety Dennis Smith will be enshrined.
Bowlen has special sentiment for Mecklenburg and Smith because they were drafted by the franchise only a year before he arrived, and he feels like they all grew up in professional football together.
"I have more than a few great memories of Dennis Smith," Bowlen said. "When I first watched Karl Mecklenburg, and I didn't know . . . a lot about football in those days, I knew there was something special about him."
The Ring of Fame committee meets each year to consider new inductees. Bowlen expects more additions in several years, when members of his first World Championship team become eligible.