After the good news on Monday that former Broncos linebacker Al Wilson is heading to the College Football Hall of Fame, let's take a moment to look back on some of his finest moments in Denver.
Wilson, a five-time Pro Bowler and a 2005 first-team All-Pro, was an absolute monster over the middle for the Broncos. A physically imposing player with great instincts and a nose for the football, Wilson was a key piece of Denver's defense every year from his first season in 1999 until his final year in 2006.
"The fans loved him and his teammates loved him, because there was never any question you were going to get 100 percent effort from Al," Ring of Fame safety John Lynch told Mike Klis in his 2019 book counting down the top 50 Broncos players. "He's what you would call the modern-day inside linebacker, because he could do it all. He could fill and play with the big boys inside, but he also had the athleticism where he could cover. And he had great natural leadership instincts."
Without further ado, here's a quick glance at some of his best performances.
Week 4, 2005: Broncos 20, Jaguars 7
With a sack, four total tackles, two forced fumbles and one pass defensed, Wilson earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors as the Broncos won 20-7. He helped Denver's defense clobber Jacksonville, as it held them to just 12 rushing yards, forced two interceptions and sacked Byron Leftwich twice.
2005 AFC Divisional Round: Broncos 27, Patriots 13
As the Broncos upended the defending Super Bowl champions, Wilson helped stifle Tom Brady & Co. with 11 total tackles and two passes defensed — all with his right hand wrapped in a cast to protect a broken thumb.
"Al Wilson made no fewer than four big plays in the first half to keep the game scoreless for the first 26 minutes," Eddie Pells of the Associated Press wrote.
It was Wilson's first, and would be his only, playoff win of his career, as he arrived just one year after the Broncos' back-to-back Super Bowl wins.
"It means a lot to me," Wilson said, according to The Daily Camera. "I feel like over the last several years, we let the fans down. We haven't given them something to cheer about. I`m more happy for the fans than I am for myself."
Week 10, 2006: Broncos 17, Raiders 13
As the Broncos moved to 7-2 on the season, and for Wilson, it was a very busy day. The Pro Bowler turned in a 10-tackle performance that included four tackles for loss and a sack.
Below the Fold
Former Broncos tackle Jared Veldheer will soon make NFL history, as he will become the first person to play for two different teams in a single NFL postseason. Veldheer played for the Colts on Saturday after being elevated from their practice squad for the game. That did not preclude the Packers from then signing him to their active roster after Indianapolis lost to Buffalo.