No player transformed the Broncos’ franchise from moribund to greatness more than Elway, whose toothy grin, rocket arm and steely resolve with a game on the line translated into an NFL-record 148 victories, five Super Bowl starts and two titles in 16 seasons. Elway’s legend was born in the 1986 AFC Championship game against the Browns when he led the Broncos 98 yards in just over five minutes to tie the game with less than a minute remaining. Denver won 23-20 in overtime – capping one of Elway’s NFL-record 47 game-winning or game-tying drives in the fourth quarter.
Colorful, loquacious and a pass-catching machine, Sharpe joins the Hall of Fame Class of 2011 as the one-time NFL career leader in receptions (815), receiving touchdowns (62) and receiving yards (10,060). He won three Super Bowls during a 14-year career with the Broncos and the Ravens. Sharpe is a member of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1990s.
Longtime Broncos fans have little to remember about the inglorious early days of the franchise, other than the tenacious running and return skills of Little, who was the smallest back (5-foot-10, 195 pounds) to lead the league in rushing since World War II. In 1971, Little became the first 1,000-yard rusher in Broncos history and won the NFL rushing title that season, finishing with 1,133 yards and six touchdowns on 284 carries. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010.
Zimmerman was the complete package as an offensive lineman: a consummate run blocker and pass protector for some of the most potent offensive teams of the 1990s. With Zimmerman on the line, the Broncos led the AFC in total combined yards in 1995 and were atop the NFL in total yards in 1996 and ’97. Denver also led the league in rushing in 1996. Zimmerman, a member of the 2008 Hall of Fame class, was named to two All-Decade Teams (1980s, 1990s), was first- or second-team All-Pro eight times and was selected to seven Pro Bowls.
Davis is the Denver Broncos’ all-time leading rusher with 7,607 rushing yards. A bruising back, Davis overcame debilitating migraine headaches as well as myriad knee and leg injuries to become one of the most beloved and productive players in franchise history. A three-time All-Pro, Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion (XXXII, XXXIII), Davis was the 1998 NFL MVP, the MVP of Super Bowl XXXII and a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team.