SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Denver Broncos prepare to play in the franchise’s eighth Super Bowl, John Elway hopes that fact not only results in the team's third Lombardi Trophy, but adds another benefit along the way.
“I hope some of the great Denver Broncos players, [owner] Pat Bowlen, get recognized for the Hall of Fame," said Elway, the team’s executive vice president of football operations/general manager. “They’re deserving because of the success we’ve had as an organization, the excellence they showed as players, and I hope it happens for all of the guys."
Two of those former Broncos -- running back Terrell Davis and safety Steve Atwater -- are among the 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016. The Hall’s board or selectors will meet Saturday in the downtown convention center, and those selected for enshrinement -- a maximum of five modern-era finalists -- will be announced during the "NFL Honors" telecast Saturday night.
The Broncos, even with a record-tying eighth Super Bowl appearance, have just four Hall of Famers -- Elway, Shannon Sharpe, Floyd Little and Gary Zimmerman.
While Davis’ career was shortened by a knee injury, he is still the franchise's all-time leading rusher and likely the greatest postseason player at his position with a record 142.5 rushing yards per game average in the playoffs, most among all players who’ve had rushing attempts in at least five postseason games.
He averaged 5.6 yards per carry in the postseason and his team won seven consecutive postseason games in which he rushed for at least 100 yards. Davis was both a league MVP with his 2,008-yard season in 1998 and a Super Bowl MVP (XXXII) in his career.
For Atwater, it is his first time as a finalist for the Hall of Fame. Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said of the imposing safety: “Every player on the field not only had to know where he was, but wanted to know where he was because they didn’t want to go there. That’s impact."
Atwater was named to seven consecutive Pro Bowls, eight overall, and was selected to the All-Decade team for the 1990s.
“I think, no question, he’s a Hall of Famer," Phillips said.