Best Broncos Players: Top 5 Denver Athletes, According To Sports Experts

Established in 1959, the Denver Broncos have been to eight Super Bowls and won three of them. In 1998 and 1999, the Broncos became one of only five teams in NFL history to win two consecutive Super Bowls. From John Elway to Peyton Manning, our list of the top five best Broncos players is a look into the history of this storied franchise.

Most NFL games are played on Sunday afternoons, so it’s no surprise that many players prefer playing in the more exclusive primetime evening games that fans have come to know and love as Sunday and Monday Night Football. Now a new study finds there may be even more reasons to covet the night games: players tend to play their best after the sun sets thanks to circadian rhythm advantages. Primetime NFL games draw millions of viewers from across the United States and beyond. The success of Monday Night Football over the decades has given rise to Thursday night football and Sunday night games during the NFL’s regular season. The ratings indicate that fans tune in for night games, and for some, the fervor of football action doesn’t end with the game.

Just how important are games to the typical fan? According to another study, one in ten parents admits to missing their child’s recital to watch a game. Thirty-five percent have canceled dinner plans. A quarter of respondents have skipped someone’s birthday party, and one in five say they’ve even ditched a date for the love of the game. NFL games also present the opportunity for an exciting road trip during the season. The survey revealed that fans travel an average of 296 miles to catch an away game, but they’ll go even farther should their team make the playoffs. Four in ten are true die-hards: they don’t miss a minute of single game during the regular season.

Are you a die-hard Broncos fanatic? The team can always be expected to bring their A-game to the gridiron. We consulted our expert sources to discover the top five best Denver Broncos players of all time. Let us know your favorite Broncos in the comments below!

aerial photography of NFL logo printed on field
NFL logo (Photo by Adrian Curiel on Unsplash)

The List: Best Denver Broncos Players, According to Experts

1. John Elway

John Elway’s lasting legacy on the field started in 1983 with the Broncos. Elway’s career is noted for as many losses as wins, making his victories that much sweeter. B/R raves, “The man who needs no introduction. One of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, John Elway. To stick with a team as long as he did and to lose as many Super Bowls and playoff games as he did, your heart has to go out to a player who was able to end on top twice. John Elway is the heart and soul of the Broncos organization, and he always will be.”

Yard Barker gushes, “The greatest Denver Bronco of all time, Elway holds every major passing record in franchise history. He played lights out at Stanford and was drafted first overall by the struggling Baltimore Colts. He refused to play for the team and was traded to the Broncos for a king’s ransom. Elway headlined the legendary 1983 quarterback draft class and was an immediate success with the Broncos, leading the team to three Super Bowls in the 1980s— all losses.”

“Perhaps the most loyal and prolific Bronco of all time, John Elway’s reputation precedes him, and for good reason. After being drafted by the Baltimore Colts but promptly traded to the Broncos before ever stepping foot on the field, Elway spent the entirety of his career in Denver. He led the Broncos to their first two Super Bowl wins in history, which came in back-to-back years: 1998 and 1999. In their 1999 Super Bowl win, Elway was awarded the Super Bowl MVP award for his outstanding efforts,” writes Rookie Road.

2. Terrell Davis

Terrell Davis was one of the most electrifying players of the 1990s. His explosive action on the field brought in fans week after week. “Davis was drafted by the Broncos in the sixth round (196th pick overall) of the 1995 NFL Draft. He is the Denver Broncos all-time leading rusher. Davis still holds the NFL record for most rushing touchdowns in a single postseason, scoring eight in the 1997 playoffs. As a player, he was given the nickname ‘T. D.’ by players, fans, and the media; this denoted both the initials of his first and last name as well as being an abbreviation for touchdown,” details Ranker.

Bola VIP writes, “The greatest running back in Broncos history, Terrell Davis, was a superstar in Denver; he rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first four seasons and won two Super Bowls with the team. Just how important was he? He was an NFL and Super Bowl MVP.”

“[Davis] just got better each year, leading the Broncos to the Super Bowl in 1997 and 1998. During those years, he had 1,750 yards and an astounding 2,008 yards rushing, respectively. He finished Super Bowl 32 as the game’s MVP, playing in only three quarters. Davis was the NFL’s MVP in 1998 and showed why he was the best back in the league during his career in the 1990s,” according to The Grueling Truth.

3. Shannon Sharpe

Shannon Sharpe’s reliable excellence on the field was an undeniable asset to the Broncos during his tenure. Not In Hall Of Fame states, “Shannon Sharpe was a late round draft pick in 1990, and the product of Savannah State would become the most prolific tight end of the 1990s.  In his third season in the NFL, he would be named to the Pro Bowl, where he would begin a seven-year streak. Sharpe would become one of John Elway’s most dependable weapons.”

Twin Spires adds, “A former seventh-round draft pick out of Savannah State, Shannon Sharpe initially struggled in Denver, until he switched to tight end in his third season. From there, Sharpe revolutionized the position and became a nightmare for defenses. The sharp route runner became the first player in his position to accumulate 10,000 receiving yards and helped Denver win back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1997 and 1998.”

“Sharpe won one Super Bowl with the Ravens and two Super Bowls with the Broncos during his 14-year career. The eight-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro is a member of the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team and the Broncos’ Ring of Fame. He ranks third in receiving yards (8,439) and receiving touchdowns (55) on the team’s all-time list. Sharpe was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011,” adds Broncos Wire.

4. Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning is another Bronco who helped the team win often. His 46-12 game record highlights Manning’s commitment to excellence on the field. Clutch Points points out that “Peyton Manning was only with the Broncos for four seasons, but it doesn’t matter; he is still the fourth-best player to ever wear the orange and navy blue. During the 2015 season, Manning actually had his worst season as a pro, but he still did enough to lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory. It doesn’t matter that Manning spent more of his time with the Indianapolis Colts; he will always be just as loved by Broncos fans.”

Bola VIP chimes in with, “Peyton Manning has done so much in his career, we really can’t even fit it all in here. If we just stick to the Broncos, Manning won one Super Bowl; he passed for over 17,000 yards and 140 touchdowns. In only four years, he was a beast of a QB for the team and well deserving of the number two spot.” In addition to his Super Bowl victory and impressive passing stats, Manning also led the Broncos to four consecutive AFC West division titles during his tenure. His leadership and ability to elevate the team’s performance were instrumental in establishing the Broncos as a dominant force in the league during that period.

“In the 2015 season, however, Manning and the Broncos found redemption in the Super Bowl by beating the Carolina Panthers. After that Super Bowl win, Manning rode off into the proverbial sunset by announcing his retirement from the NFL. He’ll go down as one of the great Broncos of all time,” says Rookie Road.

5. Rod Smith

Rod Smith is recognized as an integral member of the 1990s Broncos offense. Proving once again that football is a team effort, teammates tend to elevate and push each other to achieve athletic excellence. B/R offers, “The Broncos’ all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Rod Smith is the only undrafted NFL player to rack up more than 10,000 yards receiving. He won two Super Bowls with the team and went to three Pro Bowls. He was a member of the Broncos organization for 14 years and never played for another team.”

“Smith’s 11,389 career receiving yards are the most in Broncos history. The underdog wideout went undrafted and proved the doubters wrong by becoming Elway’s go-to receiver during the Broncos’ Super Bowl wins in the 1990s. He caught an 80-yard bomb from Elway in Super Bowl XXXIII, a momentum-swinging play. The three-time Pro Bowler also led the league in receptions in 2001 with 113,” adds Yard Barker.

“Rod Smith was also a member of the Broncos squad that won the organization’s first two Super Bowls and has since been enshrined in the Ring of Fame in the Broncos’ stadium, which recognizes the team’s best players of all time. Rod Smith’s success is even more compelling considering that he wasn’t even drafted. He went undrafted but was eventually signed by the Denver Broncos and is noted as one of the most successful undrafted free agents of all time,” comments Rookie Road.

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