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Even if Lynch and Davis are inducted, Broncos will still be underrepresented in Hall of Fame

HOUSTON --The Broncos' case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame is bigger than Terrell Davis and John Lynch.

But this weekend, it starts with those two Ring of Famers. Davis is a three-time finalist. Lynch is a four-time finalist. And understandably, President/CEO Joe Ellis feels their time has come.

For Davis, the case is clear: He's the best postseason running back in NFL history, and has numbers beyond that.

"His postseason performance is extraordinary. And he was an extraordinary player," Ellis said. "If you look at how he played, and watch him play -- 2-yard gains were 5-yard gains before you blinked an eye. All the time. Imagine that -- as fans watch the NFL today, there's a lot of 1-yard-and-a-pile-of-dust, 2-yards-and-a-pile-of dust [plays].

"He's just an extraordinary player," Ellis added. "He was the best player in football in those years. You take those years collectively, he was the best player in football. You tell me about other running backs who played longer and all that, but he deserves to be in."

So does Lynch, a two-time first-team All-Pro and a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. Of those with at least two All-Pro selections and nine or more Pro Bowl nods, Lynch and first-time finalist Brian Dawkins are the only eligible players not in the Hall of Fame.

"He only played for us for four years. Four years, four Pro Bowls," Ellis said. "A great player, a great ambassador for the game, a great leader in the locker room, a great leader on the field. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame."

Yet if and when Davis and Lynch join the Hall of Fame, that doesn't solve the problem of the Broncos' underrepresentation. Not even the eventual inclusion of Champ Bailey and Peyton Manning when they become eligible will provide a proper remedy.

Even if Davis, Lynch, Bailey and Manning go into the Hall of Fame, that would leave the Broncos with just eight players who made the Hall at least partially because of their accomplishments in orange and blue.

Consider this: the Broncos are one of 15 teams with at least three NFL championships -- including those won before the Super Bowl era. Denver is one of just two teams among that group that does not have double-digit Hall of Famers; the other is New England, which has six players inducted after playing at least four seasons there.

It's a shortfall that bothers Ellis -- who not only pushes for the eventual induction of Owner Pat Bowlen, but a slew of Ring of Famers.

That list starts with two linebacking stalwarts: Randy Gradishar and Karl Mecklenburg. Gradishar can only earn induction as a Seniors Subcommittee nominee; Mecklenburg is still in the primary pool for another two years and was a semifinalist this year.

"I don't think enough people saw and appreciated Randy Gradishar's play, and I think real people with great acumen -- whether they coached or they're personnel people -- will tell you how great a player Randy Gradishar was. I think Karl Mecklenburg falls in that category," Ellis said.

Steve Atwater, a finalist last year, is another worthy candidate.

"He was one of Mr. Bowlen's favorite players," Ellis said. "And I know Pat would be a huge advocate for Steve. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He was as good as safety as anyone -- and I would say that to John Lynch's face. He was a cornerstone player for this franchise."

So was cornerback Louis Wright, who, like Gradishar, would have to earn induction through the Seniors Subcomittee, which deals with players who have been retired for at least 25 years. Wright, a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, was a player teams often tried to scheme around to avoid throwing to his side of the field.

"Louis Wright was a tremendous player, but back in those days, media was slanted a little bit left or a little bit right, as you face the United States map -- so it was California or New York, generally that's where the discussions were had. We were in the great flyover," Ellis said. "So I don't think Louis got as much attention as he should have gotten. He should be in the Hall of Fame, as well."

This could be a massive weekend for the Broncos getting their Hall of Fame due. But it will be years before they are no longer underrepresented in Canton, Ohio.

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