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Mile High Morning: Honoring Broncos Ring of Famers who attended HBCUs


The Lead

As Black History Month begins, we're honoring the three Broncos Ring of Famers who attended a Historically Black College and University.

Ring of Famers Shannon Sharpe, Rich "Tombstone" Jackson and Billy Thompson all attended HBCUs before carving out fantastic careers in Denver.

Here's a look at each of the three players, who are intertwined with the Broncos' history of success in Denver.

Shannon Sharpe, Savannah State

A Pro Football Hall of Famer, Sharpe ranks second in franchise history in receptions and third in receiving yards and touchdown receptions. Sharpe earned four first-team All-Pro nods during his career and retired as the NFL's top tight end in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Sharpe joined the Broncos as a seventh-round selection from Savannah State and became one of the greatest players — and personalities — in franchise history.

Rich "Tombstone" Jackson, Southern University

A member of the Broncos' inaugural Ring of Fame class in 1984, Jackson was a feared pass rusher during his tenure with the Broncos. Jackson earned a pair of All-AFL selections in 1968-69 and became the first Bronco to record first-team All-NFL honors in 1970 following the merger. Jackson, a Southern University alum, tallied double-digit sacks in each of those campaigns, and his 43 sacks were the most by any player in Broncos history at the end of his career. An NAIA shot-put champion while at Southern, Jackson's NFL career was cut short due to a knee injury. "It's unbelievable to have gone to an HBCU," Jackson said in 2019

Billy Thompson, Maryland State

One of the best defensive backs in franchise history and a 1987 Ring of Fame inductee, Thompson finished his career with more starts and games played than any player in team history. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-NFL player who was a longtime captain and a key part of the Broncos' Orange Crush defense. Thompson helped the Broncos reach their first Super Bowl to cap the 1977 season, and his 40 career interceptions still rank third in franchise history. While at Maryland State (now Maryland-Eastern Shore), Thompson earned All-CIAA honors three times and was also an accomplished baseball player.

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