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Mile High Morning: Randy Gradishar named one of 20 greatest players not yet in the Hall of Fame

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The Lead

Election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a prestigious honor awarded to only the greatest of NFL legends. Exactly how legendary one must be to earn the designation, however, is constantly up for debate. Each year, the newest Hall of Fame induction class leaves out players who many feel deserve to receive the honor.

"There are still a slew of eligible former players who are still waiting for their call to Canton, Ohio," CBS Sports’ Bryan DeArdo wrote. "Many deserving players have been passed over because they played for a small market team; other players were overshadowed by more celebrated teammates. For whatever the reason, there are numerous deserving players who are still hoping to earn a spot in football immortality."

One of those deserving players is former Broncos linebacker Randy Gradishar, who DeArdo said is "the greatest Bronco who is still waiting for his place in Canton." Gradishar has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame multiple times, and he is currently one of 12 finalists to be one of three Senior Committee selections for consideration for the Class of 2023.

Despite coming close, Gradishar has yet to reach Canton.

"The 14th overall pick in the 1974 draft, Gradishar earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in 1977 while leading Denver's 'Orange Crush' defense, a unit that helped spearhead the Broncos' first Super Bowl appearance," DeArdo wrote. "Gradishar earned five more Pro Bowl selections (as well as another All-Pro nod) during his final six seasons with the Broncos. A member of the Broncos' Ring of Fame, Gradishar is credited with over 2,000 tackles during his 10-year career."

Making the Hall of Fame is not easy, and some players have to wait decades before finally receiving the call. In the 2022 induction class, not a single member got in on their first ballot. Former Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch received the honor posthumously after being eligible for 30 years.

Gradishar still has the opportunity to become a Hall of Famer in the future, and DeArdo and others continue to advocate for the Broncos legend to earn his spot in Canton.

Below the Fold

Courtland Sutton has been Russell Wilson's primary target during moments of distress throughout training camp, ESPN’s Jeff Legwold observed. Sutton credited his connection with Wilson to the work they did in San Diego during the offseason.

"We got to go out there [to San Diego] for a few days with him and it's stealing reps," Sutton said. "We had the small meetings of talking about the small things and everybody being on the same page. ... We were able to work on red zone stuff, and we were able to work on tempo things. We were able to work on those things with it just being us and not being a coach-led thing. It was just us as an offense out there, communicating with each other and saying, 'This is what I see.' Asking Russ, 'How do you like this route ran versus this defense? If we get pressed, how do you want us to run this route? If they're off, how do you want us to run this route?' Those are all very valuable reps and very valuable times to be able to build those relationships."

The Unclassifieds

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