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2.  Randy Gradishar
The Denver Broncos first became a team that was first feared when their defense became the “Orange Crush” in the late ’70s.  Many have credited linebacker, Randy Gradishar with being the heart and soul of that famed defense.

Gradishar was a tackling machine and won the 1978 Defensive Player of the Year.  He consistently went to the Pro Bowl and was the leader of Denver’s “Orange Crush” defense.  Gradishar was known for his exemplary football instincts and his hallmark ability to block the goal line.  Had he been more attention-grabbing, perhaps he would have made a bigger name for himself outside of Colorado.

It is funny to call a Defensive Player of the Year and a seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker underrated, but he was to a certain degree.  As John Elway led the Broncos to Super Bowl wins two decades later, the stars of the ’70s that almost got there have become an afterthought.  You would think that maybe one member of that team would have got into Canton by now.  His recent Finalist appearance on the Centennial Slate does help his future chances, though for his fans it feels so far away.

Should Randy Gradishar be in the Hall of Fame?

Definitely put him in! - 94.5%
Maybe, but others deserve it first. - 3.8%
Probably not, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. - 1.1%
No opinion. - 0%
No way! - 0.6%

The Bullet Points

  • Country of Origin: Warren, Ohio, U.S.A.
  • Eligible Since: Sunday, 01 January 1989
  • Position: Linebacker
  • Games Played: 145
  • Notable Statistics: 20 Interceptions
    335 Interception Return Yards
    3 Interception Return Touchdowns
    13 Fumble Recoveries
    72 Fumble Recovery Yards
    1 Fumble Recovery Touchdown
    19.5 Quarterback Sacks*
    108 Approximate Value

    6 Playoff Games
    1 Fumble Recovery
    5 Fumble Recovery Yards

    *Sacks were unofficially caluclated by Pro Football Reference from 1960 to 1981.
  • Played For: Denver Broncos
  • College: Ohio State
  • Drafted: 1st Round, 14th Overall in 1974
  • Major Accolades and Awards: Super Bowl Rings (None)
    NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1) (1978)
    UPI Defensive Player of the Year (1) (1978)
    Pro Bowl Selections (7) (1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 & 1983)
    First Team All Pro Selection (5) (1978, 1979, 1980, 1981 & 1982)
    Second Team All-Pro Selection (1) (1983)
  • Other Points of Note: Top Ten Finishes: Approximate Value (1) (1977)
    Top Ten Finishes: Fumble Recoveries (1) (1977)
  • Notable All Time Rankings: None.
  • Years Nominated for the Hall of Fame: Finalist: 2003, 2008 & 2020
    Semi Finalist: 2004, 2005, 2006 & 2007

Should Randy Gradishar be in the Hall of Fame?

Definitely put him in! - 94.5%
Maybe, but others deserve it first. - 3.8%
Probably not, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. - 1.1%
No opinion. - 0%
No way! - 0.6%
Last modified on Friday, 17 March 2023 20:43


+6 #13 Robert Stufflebean 2020-02-14 22:22
A travesty of justice that Randy is ignored.
+6 #12 Andrew Grimes 2020-01-24 17:44
Randy Gradishar was the heart of the Orange Crush defense, regarded as one of the best ever. He didn’t need to brash like some of the others, he did his talking my making plays. Tom Jackson was the talker on that defense. Just ask John Madden. He is a Hall Of Famer to me, regardless of what the clueless voters think. He averaged over 200 tackles a season, which is AMAZING. Unfortunatel y he never won a world championship and therefore isn’t a household name. I say ask the Hall Of Famers that played with him if he was good enough. I bet you they’ll agree. Dan Hampton once asked Walter Payton who hit him the hardest. His answer? Gradishar ‘78. Once he gets in, it’ll be that much sweeter. Go #53!
+10 #11 Jacob Johnson 2018-08-09 05:00
Let's see... 10 years a linebacker in the NFL, 7 pro bowls, 20 interception s. 13 fumble recoveries, 20 sacks, over 2000 tackles, 4 touchdowns, and in 1978 named AP defensive player of the year. Yes, he should be in the hall of fame. He should have been there a long time ago. The HOF should be ashamed.
+1 #10 Detroitjohn 2018-05-09 03:28
Graduated in 1974 from OSU not 1964...
+5 #9 John L. 2017-08-14 19:00
Stellar NFL career. The late great Woody Hayes called him the greatest player he ever coached at Ohio State. Enough said.
+10 #8 Steven Shaw 2016-05-16 19:21
Skilled? You bet! Underrated? Obviously! The Orange crush would never have existed without this man! To his detriment, he was the epitome of humility. Not brash, flashy, or a loudmouth. He understood his role, as well as that of the rest of the defense. If for whatever reason, a teammate was not in the right place at the right time, he would step in for them (hence, his unearthly stat's). His defensive prowess and instincts were to say the least unnerving. Get this man to Canton, STAT!!!
-1 #7 cka2nd . 2015-08-09 17:22
Gradishar definitely deserves to be in the Hall. I'd probably put Riley Odoms in, too, although I admit he's a borderline case. Craig Morton is one of the great pro football resurrection stories of all time, the third best QB in Broncos history, and had the best year of his career at the age of 38 but he never made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team.
+5 #6 Zack Savage 2015-05-03 15:59
Not an official stat at the time but I've seen his career tackles estimated at about 2000 over 10 seasons. 100 is a fine year... 150 is first team all star 200? As an average for a decade long career? Wow
+4 #5 Dutch. Robbins 2015-03-22 22:23
Three qbs that beat the mighty Pitsburgh Steelers during the 70s postseason playoff s they were 1. Bob Griese of the 72 undefeated Miami Dolphins. 2. Kenny Stabler the snake / Madden Raiders. 3. Craig Morton Orange Crush Denver Broncos. Huge bragging rights for all 3 qbs. :lol:
+1 #4 jasoncohen9 2015-01-13 17:30
Craig Morton? Are you serious Ziggy Koole. He's undoubtedly the worst postseason QB ever! It's a miracle the Cowboys & Broncos even made SBs with him behind center!

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