The pages of the National Football League calendar keep turning, and very shortly we will move from the quiet days of summer to full-blown training camps.
The 2021 NFL season will kick off with the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame game and the enshrinement of new inductees in Canton, Ohio.
This year's Hall of Fame ceremonies will be a special moment for the Denver Broncos, marking the first time ever that fans of Broncos Country will celebrate three new members into the Hall.
This is partially due to the fact that the induction ceremonies will be spread over two nights and will honor inductees from both 2020 and 2021.
Of course, fans will revel in the inductions of longtime Broncos great Steve Atwater and quarterback Peyton Manning, who directed our championship in Super Bowl 50.
But let us not forget John Lynch, who played four years (2004-07) with the Broncos and was named to the Pro Bowl in each year he played for the franchise.
Lynch joins fellow Hall of Famer Champ Bailey and cornerback Aqib Talib as the only three players in Bronco history to make the Pro Bowl in each of their first four years with the club. Lynch was selected to nine total Pro Bowls (four with Denver and five with Tampa Bay), trailing only Hall of Famer Ken Houston (10) among safeties in league history.
A star ever since his days at Torrey Pines High School in Del Mar and at Stanford University, I well remember his first press conference upon signing a free agent contract with the Broncos.
Lynch remains the only player to ever sign with Denver and pass out T-shirts to members of the press at his inaugural press meeting. And fittingly, the tee shirts did not feature a message celebrating Lynch but rather featured his charity, of which he and wife Linda were and still are duly proud.
He was always all about making other people better and contributing to the team concept of victory.
Lynch came to the Broncos after 11 seasons in Tampa Bay, where he was a four-time Associated Press All-Pro selection (first-team in 1999-00, second-team in 2001-02) and helped lead the franchise to its first Super Bowl victory in Super Bowl XXXVII.
He is one of the few players in two teams' Rings of Fame (or the equivalent), and Lynch is believed to be the only player who was chosen for those honors in the same year. He was selected to the Broncos' Ring of Fame in 2016 and to the Bucs' Ring in that same season.
Lynch helped the Broncos' defense rank No. 8 in total defense from 2004-07 while producing 304 tackles, seven sacks, three interceptions, 26 passes defensed, nine forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
After having a career year with 10 passes defensed in his first season in Denver, Lynch established personal bests with four sacks and four forced fumbles in 2005, becoming perhaps the first safety to reach those totals in a single season.
And now Lynch is general manager of the highly successful and respected San Francisco 49ers franchise, continuing his career at the executive level.
Like many things related to the Denver Broncos, the Pro Football Hall of Fame membership rolls represented a long, dry spell for devotees of the orange and blue. But Denver's history of success and great players over the last 40 years has resulted in a number of Broncos now represented in Canton.
And of course, since the era of player free agency began, players are more likely to spend their careers split among different teams, so several Broncos have played for multiple teams in their illustrious careers.
In fact, all of this year's Denver honorees also played elsewhere, Lynch with the Buccaneers, Manning with the Indianapolis Colts and Atwater for one year with the New York Jets.
But greatness is never limited to a single uniform.
And so Broncos Country this year honors three all-time greats from the Mile High City, as Steve Atwater, Peyton Manning and John Lynch each get their gold jacket, ring and immortal bust from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.