During his historic run with the Broncos, Mike Shanahan never imagined he would join the Ring of Fame someday — that he would receive a ring of his own and that his name would be unveiled on the interior façade of the stadium with many of the players he coached.
In the 37 years since Shanahan joined the team in 1984 — and since the Ring of Fame was established — he helped the Broncos win two Super Bowls and reach unparalleled success, and over that span, the franchise has inducted more than 30 members to that exclusive fraternity, which now includes Shanahan.
After revealing his Ring of Fame pillar on Friday, the franchise's all-time winningest coach received his final honors as the franchise's 34th Ring of Famer, celebrating his induction with a halftime speech and by watching his name unveiled next to Champ Bailey's.
"Well, you never even picture that," Shanahan said. "You start off coaching, especially coming here, and in 21 years you're part of a lot of great players and coaches. To do that just shows you how many great players and coaches I was around, because you don't do that by yourself, and you don't last that long unless you've got a great owner, some great quarterbacks and a great supporting cast."
For this honor, Shanahan was put firmly in the spotlight. From midfield, Shanahan accepted his ring and gave a speech to thousands of cheering fans.
"It was unbelievable," Shanahan said. "You know the crowd, the fans. It's typical. For 21 years—that type of support. [That is] one of the reasons why this franchise is where it's at. They're the best fans on the planet, and you feel it every year no matter what the record is. So, very happy, obviously, to be out there and feel like I'm back home."
Shanahan wasn't the only Bronco honored Sunday, as former safety Steve Atwater received his Pro Football Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence during a pregame ceremony.
"I think it's so special to be with players that have earned the right to be in the Hall of Fame," Shanahan said. "To be around a guy like Steve Atwater — not only was he a great football player, but he was such a class act both on and off the field. To have a guy represent the Broncos in the Hall of Fame and to be honored with all the truly great players was pretty special."
And just like he never imagined joining the Ring of Fame, Shanahan is keeping the same blinders on when it comes potentially being elected to the Hall of Fame at some point down the line.
"Those things I actually really don't think about, just like the Ring of Fame, because people give you that award and it's your players that get you there," Shanahan said. "It's one of those things that's up to other people, but just to be mentioned gets you very excited."
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To celebrate his induction ceremony on Friday, Shanahan was joined by several members of his family, including his son, Kyle. During Mike's coaching career, Kyle was often by his side, watching as his father led an impressive career and as he helped shape the way football was played offensively. When Kyle himself began a career in coaching, he became one of several other young offensive minds to carry on those principles around the league.
"I was always biased growing up as his son but it was always so different watching his offenses," Kyle told 9NEWS' Mike Klis. "And it's worked for so many different teams because it was different. I always knew how special it was, but it's cool to see everyone else give him his due."
Now nearly a decade after his last coaching stint, the Shanahan coaching style will continue to impact the NFL and head coaches across the league for years to come.