Broncos to finally put Reeves, Upchurch, Mingo into ROF

Having waited far too long for the honor, Dan Reeves, Rick Upchurch, and Gene Mingo will finally be enshrined in the Broncos' Ring of Fame in 2014.

Reeves, who coached the team to the second most wins in franchise history, led the team to three AFC Championships in four seasons.

Of course, each of those conference titles was followed by a humiliating loss in the SB, with John Elway at quarterback.

Reeves famously clashed with Elway and Mike Shanahan, who would later team up to defeat Reeves' Falcons in SB 33.

He considered trading Elway to Washington in 1991 - not long before drafting a 20-year-old sophomore to replace John - seven years prior to his retirement (and SB 33).

Reeves fired Shanahan during that same offseason, even accusing the rising assistant of going behind his back to script plays with Elway.

Despite those dramatic missteps, Reeves has long deserved to be honored among Denver's legends.

And there's something poetic about that occurring while Elway is running the team's football operations.

No matter one's take on whether the Broncos and Elway might have fared better with another man at the helm, there's no mistaking their success under Reeves.

The Broncos won five division titles during Reeves' 12-year tenure, a time when the Chargers were the only consistent AFCW walkover.

While this fan will never forgive Reeves for having drafted Tommy Maddox over Carl Pickens in 1992 (fresh off the 10-7 title game loss at Buffalo), the Broncos' ROF has been woefully incomplete for his absence.

The same applies to Upchurch, one of the game's greatest return men of all-time.

Upchurch's eight punt return touchdowns (and total return touchdowns) still stand as (by far) the most in franchise history. Darrien Gordon had three PR scores, while Trindon Holliday had four total return scores during his brief time in Denver.

Four of those returns came during one season (1976).

A member of the NFL's 1970s All-Decade Team, the 1975 fourth-rounder was a three-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler.

He was briefly engaged to future Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the 1970s.

To be honest, I've made the mistake of thinking countless times that Upchurch had been enshrined long ago. His omission had been so blatant, and it's wonderful to see him finally honored.

Mingo was an original Bronco, and one of their first stars.

The first African American placekicker in American football history, Mingo led the AFL in scoring in 1960 and 1962, also notching the upstart league's first ever punt return score.

At the time, his 27 field goals in 1962 were a single-season professional football record.

A jack of all trades, Mingo kicked field goals, extra points, carried the ball, threw and caught passes, returned kicks and punts.

Reeves, Upchurch, and Mingo will receive their honor during halftime of the Broncos' Week 2 game against Kansas City.

The trio will make for 27 members of the Broncos' Ring of Fame.

Broncos Ring of Fame Inductees

  • 1984: Floyd "The Franchise" Little, Rich "Tombstone" Jackson, Lionel Taylor, Austin "Goose" Gonsoulin
  • 1985: Gerald Phipps
  • 1986: Frank Tripucka, Charley Johnson, Paul Smith
  • 1987: Billy Thompson
  • 1988: Craig Morton, Haven Moses, Jim Turner
  • 1989: Randy Gradishar
  • 1992: Tom Jackson (the patron saint of IAOFM)
  • 1993: Louis Wright
  • 1999: John Elway
  • 2001: Karl "Snow Goose" Mecklenburg, Dennis Smith
  • 2003: Gary Zimmerman
  • 2005: Steve "The Smiling Assassin" Atwater
  • 2007: Terrell Davis
  • 2009: Shannon Sharpe
  • 2012: Rod Smith
  • 2013: Tom Nalen
  • 2014: Gene Mingo, Dan Reeves, Rick Upchurch

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM