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Three Broncos Entering Ring of Fame

Posted May 6, 2014

Gene Mingo, Rick Upchurch and Dan Reeves are the three newest inductees into the Broncos Ring of Fame.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For the first time since 1988, three Broncos legends will be inducted into the franchise's Ring of Fame in the same year.

Halfback/kicker Gene Mingo, wide receiver Rick Upchurch and Head Coach Dan Reeves were elected by the selection committee during its annual meeting.

“(Owner & CEO) Pat Bowlen and the Broncos are very proud of their tradition and alumni, and we are thrilled with the election of Gene Mingo, Rick Upchurch and Dan Reeves into the Ring of Fame,” Broncos President Joe Ellis said. “They played a key role in three important eras of Denver Broncos history and are most deserving of this prestigious honor.

“Our organization looks forward to honoring Gene, Rick and Coach Reeves as we celebrate their distinguished and lasting contributions to the Denver Broncos.”

The induction ceremony for all three men will take place at halftime of the Broncos' Week 2 home game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Kickoff on Sunday, September 14 is scheduled for 2:25 p.m. MDT.

The last time three inductees entered the Ring of Fame in the same year saw quarterback Craig Morton, wide receiver Haven Moses and kicker Jim Turner make the grade. Three players also entered the Ring of Fame in 1986, while a record four made it in 1984, the year the honor was created by Mr. Bowlen.

Mingo, an original Bronco, will also represent the Broncos in the 2014 NFL Draft. He will announce the team's second-round pick live at Radio City Music Hall.

He was the first African-American placekicker in pro football history, but his contributions to the team didn't end there. He served as a running back while also returning punts.

In fact, he had the first punt return for a touchdown in AFL history, which gave the Broncos the win against the Boston Patriots in the first-ever AFL game.

That year -- the Broncos' inaugural season in 1960 -- he led the AFL in scoring.

Mingo served as an honorary captain in Week 5 of the 2009 season -- the Broncos' 50th anniversary -- when the team donned its original yellow-and-brown uniforms.

"This jersey, those brown pants, those gold-and-brown striped socks, you could talk about us all you want," Mingo said at the time. "But I guarantee you a lot of those teams in the early years, when we stepped on the field, did not like playing the Broncos. It was a war out there."

He is the fourth original Bronco to be inducted into the Ring of Fame, joining Austin "Goose" Gonsoulin, Lionel Taylor and Frank Tripucka.

Upchurch spent his entire nine-year career in Denver and was named a first-team 1970s NFL All-Decade selection by the Pro Football Hall of Fame committee in addition to earning second-team 1980s All-NFL Decade honors as a kick returner.

The four-time Pro Bowler and five-time Associated Press All-Pro is also a Colorado Sports Hall of Famer, and at the time of his retirement, his eight career punt return scores were tied for the most in NFL history. The number still ranks first in Broncos annals.

His career totals include 267 receptions for 4,369 yards with 24 touchdowns, 49 rushes for 349 yards and three scores, 248 punt returns for 3,008 yards and eight touchdowns as well as 95 kickoff returns for 2,355 yards.

Reeves is the first coach to be inducted into the Broncos Ring of Fame, and just the second non-player to earn that distinction, joining former Owner Gerald H. Phipps, who was inducted in 1985.

He coached the Broncos from 1981-92 and compiled a 110-73-1 record in his 12 seasons. During that span, he led the team to a franchise-best five division titles and three Super Bowl appearances. All three came in a four-year span from 1986 to 1989.

His 110 regular-season wins and seven playoff victories each rank second in Broncos history behind former Head Coach Mike Shanahan. His teams finished with a losing record just twice, one of which came during the strike-shortened 1982 campaign.

“I congratulate Dan Reeves on being named to the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame," Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway said. "Dan won a tremendous amount of football games as head coach of Broncos. We had an opportunity to experience three Super Bowls in a four-year period and enjoyed a lot of success as a team. I have great deal of appreciation for what Dan helped us achieve.

“He’s a great football coach and is very deserving of this honor. I’m happy for Dan and his family, and I’m looking forward to his induction into the Ring of Fame.”

The Ring of Fame, which is displayed on the Level 5 façade of Sports Authority Field at Mile High, was created by Mr. Bowlen to honor former players and administrators who played significant roles in the franchise’s history. Last season, Ring of Fame Plaza opened for fans to visit outside the stadium. Including this year’s inductions, a total of 27 individuals have been honored as Ring of Famers.

The full list (and the year each man was inducted) can be seen below:

Dan Reeves (2014)
Rick Upchurch (2014)
Gene Mingo (2014)
Tom Nalen (2013)
Rod Smith (2012)
Shannon Sharpe (2009)
Terrell Davis (2007)
Steve Atwater (2005)
Gary Zimmerman (2003)
Karl Mecklenburg (2001)
Dennis Smith (2001)
John Elway (1999)
Louis Wright (1993)
Tom Jackson (1992)
Randy Gradishar (1989)
Craig Morton (1988)
Haven Moses (1988)
Jim Turner (1988)
Billy Thompson (1987)
Charley Johnson (1986)
Paul Smith (1986)
Frank Tripucka (1986)
Gerald H. Phipps (1985)
Austin “Goose” Gonsoulin (1984)
Rich Jackson (1984)
Floyd Little (1984)
Lionel Taylor (1984)