Broncos great Randy Gradishar gets into Pro Football Hall of Fame

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At long last, the iconic Orange Crush defense will be represented in Canton, Ohio.

LAS VEGAS — No more waiting, Randy Gradishar. No more election disappointment.

The star linebacker from the Denver Broncos’ famed Orange Crush defense has been officially elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was announced Thursday during the NFL Honors program.

Gradishar, who is three weeks shy of his 72nd birthday, was elected as a senior player finalist, as was former Chicago Bears’ defensive tackle Steve McMichael. In a surprise, coach finalist Buddy Parker and senior player finalist Art Powell failed to receive the required 80 percent vote from the 50-member HOF voting body and will not be enshrined during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in August in Canton, Ohio.

Gradishar, at long last, will be there. The Broncos’ first-round draft pick out of Ohio State in 1974, Gradishar was an inside linebacker in Joe Collier’s then unique, 3-4 defensive system. Denver’s perennial tackle leader, Gradishar also had 20 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries and four defensive touchdowns while never missing a game during his 10-year career.

He earned seven Pro Bowl berths in those 10 years, was a two-time All Pro and in 1978 was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Gradishar was first eligible for the Hall of Fame in 1989 but only made it to the voter’s room as a top 15 modern-era finalist in 2003 and 2008, his final year of modern-era eligibility. At that point he was moved to the vast senior pool. Where the wait lengthened.

While football immortality had eluded Gradishar the first 40 years after he retired, his Orange Crush defense from the 1977 season has long been recognized as one of the best defenses in NFL history. That year, the Denver D allowed just 10.6 points per game while carrying the Broncos to the first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

Gradishar is the ninth Bronco who spent at least five seasons with the team to become a Hall of Famer, joining John Elway, Gary Zimmerman, Floyd Little, Shannon Sharpe, Terrell Davis, Champ Bailey, owner Pat Bowlen and Steve Atwater.


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Broncos great Randy Gradishar gets into Pro Football Hall of Fame

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