The Denver Broncos Ring of Fame was created in 1984 by team owner Pat Bowlen to honor former players and administrators who played significant roles in the franchise's history.
The Denver Broncos Ring of Fame roster grew to 23 in 2012 when wide receiver Rod Smith (1994-2007) was elected to join the Ring’s distinguished membership. Before Smith, the most recent addition came in 2009 when tight end Shannon Sharpe (1990-99, 2002-03) joined, in 2007 when running back Terrell Davis (1995-2002) was inducted, in 2003 when safety Steve Atwater (1989-98) was honored and in 2003 when tackle Gary Zimmerman (1993-97) was enshrined.
In 2001, linebacker Karl Mecklenburg (1983-94) and safety Dennis Smith (1981-94) were named Broncos Ring of Famers. Quarterback John Elway (1983-98) was inducted into the Ring of Fame in 1999 in a ceremony held at halftime of the Broncos’ season-opening Monday Night Football game vs. Miami on Sept. 13, 1999. As testament to the legend he established during his 16-year career, Elway is the only inductee for whom the customary five-year waiting period was waived.
Elway’s induction was the first since 1993 when cornerback Louis Wright (1975-86) joined the Ring of Fame, a year after linebacker Tom Jackson (1973-86) entered the Ring in 1992.
Linebacker Randy Gradishar (1974-83) was the only 1989 inductee, following the 1988 inductions of quarterback Craig Morton (1977-82), wide receiver Haven Moses (1972-81) and kicker Jim Turner (1971-79).
Former defensive back Bill Thompson (1969-81) was honored in 1987, and three players joined the elite group in 1986: quarterbacks Frank Tripucka (1960-63) and Charley Johnson (1972-75), and defensive end Paul Smith (1968-78).
In 1985, former owner Gerald H. Phipps became the first non-player to have his name placed on the Ring.
The Ring of Fame was established in 1984 with an inaugural class of four members: running back Floyd Little (1967-75), defensive end Rich Jackson (1967-72), wide receiver Lionel Taylor (1960-66) and safety Austin “Goose” Gonsoulin (1960-66).
The Ring of Fame is displayed on the Level 5 facade of Sports Authority Field at Mile High.