ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The winningest coach in Broncos history is now part of the franchise's most elite group.
Former head coach Mike Shanahan has been elected to the team's Ring of Fame, the team announced Tuesday.
Shanahan, who guided the Broncos to their first two Super Bowl titles, is the franchise's 34th Ring of Famer. He will be enshrined in the Ring of Fame in 2021.
"Mike Shanahan is the greatest coach in Denver Broncos history and among the winningest coaches of all-time," President and CEO Joe Ellis said. "He brought an unmatched standard and intensity as head coach, leading this franchise to its first two Super Bowl wins and building the Broncos into perennial contenders. Few coaches have had more of an impact with one organization — as both a head coach and assistant — than Mike Shanahan over the course of his two decades with the Broncos.
"We are thrilled that Mike has now been elected to the Broncos' Ring of Fame. Although postponing his induction was a difficult decision, he deserves a full celebration in front of all of our fans and distinguished alumni. Along with our fans, we can't wait to honor Coach Shanahan during our Ring of Fame and alumni weekend in 2021."
One of 13 coaches in NFL history with at least two Super Bowl wins, Shanahan holds the Broncos' franchise records for total wins (146), regular-season wins (138), playoff wins (8) and Super Bowl wins (2). He ranks fourth in franchise history in win percentage, with a 146-91 (.616) career winning percentage.
Shanahan, who is the longest-tenured head coach in Broncos history, joins Dan Reeves and Red Miller as former Broncos coaches in the team's Ring of Fame.
Known for his run-heavy West Coast offense, Shanahan took the Broncos' head coaching job in 1995 after two previous stints with the team as an assistant. A former quarterback at Eastern Illinois, Shanahan transfered to the coaching ranks after he suffered a serious injury in 1972. Shanahan spent nine years in the collegiate ranks before joining the Broncos as the team's wide receivers coach in 1984. Shanahan quickly became Reeves' offensive coordinator, and he worked with former quarterback John Elway from 1985-87.
Look back through the coaching career of the Broncos' all-time winningest coach — new Ring of Famer Mike Shanahan.
During that first stint as the team's offensive coordinator, Shanahan led an offense that ranked in the top 10 in points during all three of his seasons. The Broncos made the Super Bowl twice in that time frame, and in 1987, Shanahan and the Broncos ranked second in the NFL in yards and fourth in points as they advanced to Super Bowl XXII. Elway earned league MVP honors following the 1987 season.
Shanahan departed Denver to be named the Raiders' head coach ahead of the 1988 season, but he was fired just four games into his second season. He returned to Denver to serve as the team's quarterbacks coach for the 1989 and 1990 seasons before being named the team's offensive coordinator in 1991. Though the Broncos made another Super Bowl appearance during Shanahan's second stint with the team, he parted ways with the team following the 1991 season and joined George Seifert and the 49ers as the team's offensive coordinator.
Under Shanahan's guidance, the 49ers ranked first in the league in scoring for three consecutive years and won Super Bowl XXIX following the 1994 season. With his first Super Bowl championship in tow, Shanahan replaced Wade Phillips in Denver as the team's head coach in 1995.
Following an 8-8 start to his head-coaching career in Denver, Shanahan guided the Broncos to at least 12 wins in each of the next three seasons. Denver responded to a 1996 playoff loss to the Jaguars by going on their "Revenge Tour" in the 1997 postseason. The Broncos, who had the league's top scoring and total offense in 1997, earned wins over the Jaguars, Chiefs and Steelers before upsetting the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. Behind Super Bowl MVP Terrell Davis, the Broncos earned their first world championship.
A year later, the Broncos posted the league's second-ranked scoring offense and second-ranked rushing attack as Davis rushed for 2,000 yards. Denver started the season 13-0 — they won 18 consecutive games dating back to Week 17 in 1997 — and defeated the Seahawks in Week 17 to set the club's single-season win mark. Davis passed the 2,000-yard mark during the victory.
The Broncos cruised to their second world championship, which they earned with a 34-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Between 1996 and 1998, the Broncos became the first team to win 46 total games across three seasons. They did not lose a single regular-season home game during that stretch and became only the second team to accomplish that feat.
Shanahan is one of just four former head coaches with at least two Super Bowl victories who have not been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The eight other former coaches with two or more Super Bowl wins are all in the Hall.
Following John Elway's retirement after the 1998 season, Shanahan continued to help the Broncos find offensive success. Denver ranked in the top half of the league in rushing yards during each of his remaining 10 seasons with the Broncos. Five of those offenses ranked in the top five in the NFL in rushing yards. The offense possessed balance, too, as the Broncos ranked in the top eight in passing yards in four different seasons.
In 2000, the Broncos ranked second in total offense as they rebounded from a difficult 1999 season to go 11-5 and return to the playoffs. Denver also made the playoffs each season from 2003-05 and earned a Divisional Round win over the New England Patriots during the 2005 postseason to advance to the AFC Championship.
Shananan continued his success with the Broncos as he assumed control of personnel decisions. He was named the team's Vice President of Football Operations in 1999 and later became the Executive Vice President of Football Operations in 2002. He helped orchestrate a blockbuster 2004 trade that sent Clinton Portis to Washington in exchange for future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey.
Bailey earned three first-team All-Pro nods in Denver and made eight Pro Bowls. He led the NFL with 10 interceptions in 2006.
During the 2005 postseason, Bailey's interception of Tom Brady helped Shanahan his final of nine posteason wins with the Broncos.
Across his career, Shanahan built a resume that compares to many of the game's greats. In his 14 seasons as the Broncos' head coach, he earned 146 wins, which ranks 14th in NFL history for the most wins with one team. Eleven of the other 14 coaches are in the Hall of Fame; Bill Belichick remains active and Jeff Fisher has not been enshrined.
Including his seven years as an assistant, Shanahan recorded 221 career wins with the Broncos, which is the highest total by any coach in team history. He is one of just six head coaches to win multiple Super Bowls and win more than 200 games with one team. He joins Belichick, Seifert, Don Shula, Tom Landry and Chuck Noll.
While with the Broncos, Shanahan's offenses were consistently dominant. Denver posted the top total offense and rushing offense during his coaching career, and they ranked third in points per game across that 14-year span. During 11 of those seasons, the Broncos had a 1,000-yard rusher. Six different players accomplished the feat for Shanahan's Broncos.
At home, the Broncos enjoyed particular success, as Denver held the best home record in the NFL (83-29) during Shanahan's career. They posted the fourth-best regular-season record.
Soon, Shanahan will return to Empower Field at Mile High for his enshrinement.
When Shanahan is inducted into the Ring of Fame in 2021, he could have company. Former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will be eligible for enshrinement into both the Ring of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021, and the Broncos are expected to also honor Steve Atwater, who will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2021, as well.