ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos Ring of Fame was started by Pat Bowlen in his first season of ownership 31 years ago.
Most seasons, there has been just one inductee, and there have been several years in which no one joined the illustrious group.
But this year the Ring of Fame welcomes three new members, and they span four decades of Broncos history.
Gene Mingo, Dan Reeves and Rick Upchurch are the newest members of the Ring of Fame, with their names to be added to the ring around the stadium’s interior and an eight-foot steel and bronze pillar dedicated to each in the Ring of Fame Plaza.
A separate story on the Broncos web site chronicles the achievement of each individual, but this class represents so much to so many members of Broncos Country.
The present is defense of both the AFC Western Division and AFC Championships, with one of the finest teams in Broncos history set to take the field this fall.
And the future is very bright, a time of unbridled optimism for the organization and our legions of supporters.
The new 35 million dollar addition to the team headquarters will be completed this fall, adding to the luster of future hope.
But there is also the past, and we should never lose track of how much the past is tied to today.
The Broncos continue to honor and embrace our past.
It is the foundation of the present. This class does all of that.
The Broncos will have our 45th straight sellout season this fall, and only one NFL owner has gone to more Super Bowls than Pat Bowlen.
Mingo, Reeves and Upchurch—taken alphabetically—all had a great role in making the Broncos what the team is today.
It is like the symbol for eternity. It goes round and round, without beginning and without end—a little like the way Broncos fans feel for their team.
Gene Mingo was one of the game’s pioneers as the first African-American placekicker in history. His accomplishments are fully noted in the other stories, but during his time with the Broncos Mingo was outscored in pro football only by Paul Horning, George Blanda, Jim Taylor and Gino Cappelletti—the first three are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Cappelletti is in the Patriots Hall of Fame.
Dan Reeves won 110 games as the Broncos’ head coach and was the only AFC coach to lead his team to three Super Bowls in the 1980s. He led the Broncos to seven 10-win seasons, five AFC West titles, and if the only coach to have won the Kansas City 101 Club Coach of the Year award three times (1984, 1989 and 1991).
And Uppy—really, anyone from back in the day calls him “Uppy” as much as Rick, myself included—was one of the great punt returners in pro football history.
Uppy is third in all-time Denver history with 10,081 all purpose yards, trailing just Floyd Little and Rod Smith.
Rick Upchurch was on the NFL All-Decade team in the 1970s and was second team on the 1980s All-Decade team as well.
Actually, I can go on and on on all three men, but I am honored to have known all of them and worked actively with Dan and Uppy.
They are all deserving, all great additions to the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame and are individuals who have brought honor to the history of Broncos Country.
I also love the fact that their selections show that each year is a new one, and someone can still be honored when the spotlight is not shining on them as it was nce upon a time.
I am personally very happy for their selections, and for the work of the committee in the evaluation process.
I hope the Broncos family of fans joins in welcoming Gene, Dan, and Rick into the Ring of Fame!