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Way Back When: Karl Mecklenburg makes Pro Football Researchers Association's Hall of Very Good


The Pro Football Researchers Association, of which I am proud to be a member, is pleased to announce that former Denver Bronco Karl Mecklenburg was elected last week to the Hall of Very Good by voting members of our group.

The Hall of Very Good was established in 2003 by the PFRA, the only organization in the United States dedicated to documenting and preserving pro football history. The purpose is to honor players and coaches who are not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame but whose outstanding careers nonetheless deserve recognition.

Each year for the last 17 years, the PFRA, whose membership includes some of the foremost football researchers and historians in the country, have elected from seven to 10 people to the Hall of Very Good.

Many of those elected to the Hall of Very Good have subsequently been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Given the rich history of the Denver Broncos, it is fitting that a number of Denver players and coaches have been elected.

Those individuals are, in addition to Mecklenburg, Lyle Alzado, Cookie Gilchrist, Randy Gradishar, Abner Haynes, Rich Jackson, Floyd Little, Tobin Rote, Louis Wright, and former head coaches Dan Reeves and Lou Saban. Former Broncos head coach Mac Speedie and assistant coach John Hadl are also in the Hall of Very Good, but were selected as players. (Also, Little and Speedie were elected before they were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.)

The entire eight-man HOVG class of 2020 are Mecklenburg, Ottis Anderson, Jay Hilgenberg, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Ron McDole, Richie Petitbon, Sterling Sharpe and Buddy Young.

All members are written up in the PFRA's magazine, The Coffin Corner, and all living members receive a plaque from the PFRA.

While many of these names might not have much familiarity to our modern generation of football fans, I can assure you that each of those new members (all of whom I voted for, by the way) were great players. Every saint is not canonized, and every great player is not in the Hall of Fame.

These eight players had the stuff of greatness and made great contributions to their teams and to pro football.

It only makes sense that each player is mostly recognized by the fans of his own team and city, and those who watched Karl Mecklenburg know what a great player he was.

In fact, I personally think the fact that the same versatility which allowed him to play all seven defensive line and linebacker positions has in fact hampered his candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In his 12-year career with the Denver Broncos, Mecklenburg was voted to play in six Pro Bowls, a total which ties him for the seventh-highest total by any player in Broncos history. He was named All-AFC and All-NFL four times and was tabbed as the 1986 AFC Player of the Year by Football News. Mecklenburg also helped Denver to seven postseason appearances, five division titles and three Super Bowl berths (following the 1986, 1987 and 1989 seasons).

No AFC player started more Super Bowls during the decade of the 1980s than Mecklenburg, who started in three, and he is the only Bronco in history to record four sacks in one game twice in his career.

Congrats, Meck, on your selection to the 2020 Class of Very Good.

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