,ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Pro Football Hall of Fame revealed its list of 129 Modern-Era nominees for the Class of 2023, 11 former Broncos made the first cut.
Three Broncos Ring of Famers — Rod Smith, Tom Nalen and Jason Elam — are joined by Wes Welker, Mark Schlereth, Neil Smith, DeMarcus Ware, Al Wilson and Dre' Bly, Simeon Rice and Seth Joyner.
A three-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion, Rod Smith is Denver's all-time leading receiver with 849 career receptions for 11,389 yards and 68 touchdowns. Nalen, a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All Pro at center, started 194 career games from 1994 to 2007, which is second only to John Elway. Elam is the franchise's all-time leading scorer and a three-time Pro Bowler.
Two of their teammates from the back-to-back championship teams are also on the list in Schlereth and Neil Smith. Including his six seasons in Washington, Schlereth was a two-time Pro Bowler and won three Super Bowls. Neil Smith, who spent nine seasons in Kansas City before joining the Broncos for three years, is a member of the Hall of Fame's All-1990s Team and made six Pro Bowls.
A Super Bowl 50 champion, Ware was a finalist for the Hall of Fame's Class of 2022 as a first-year candidate. He ranks ninth on the all-time sack leaderboard since the stat officially started being tracked in 1982.
Wilson played for the Broncos for eight seasons and earned five Pro Bowl selections and one first-team All-Pro nod.
Bly, Welker and Joyner and Rice were each with the Broncos for two seasons or less, arriving in Denver after more prolific stints elsewhere. Bly won a Super Bowl with the Rams and made two Pro Bowls as a member of the Lions before starting all 32 games for the Broncos from 2007-08. Welker was a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro for the Patriots. Rice was a three-time Pro Bowler, one-time first-team All-Pro and a Super Bowl champion during the 10 seasons he spent in Arizona and Tampa before coming to Denver. Joyner was a three-time Pro Bowler during eight years in Philadelphia and played his final season in Denver in 1998, helping the Broncos win Super Bowl XXXIII.
The list of nominees will be whittled down to semifinalists and finalists before as many as five Modern-Era players are selected for induction in the Class of 2023.