One of the Broncos’ greatest defensive players ever and a pair of former Denver coaches were named to the 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists on Wednesday.
Linebacker Randy Gradishar was one of 12 former players selected as a finalist in the Seniors category and coaches Mike Shanahan and Dan Reeves were among the 12 in the Coach/Contributor combination.
The Seniors Committee will meet on August 16 to vote and submit three finalists to the full voting pool of 49 members in early 2023. Each of the three finalists may be selected to the Class of 23. On August 23, the Coach/Contributors Committee will select one finalist to submit to the full voting set.
A cornerstone of the Orange Crash Defenses, Gradisar played his 10-year career with the Broncos. He was named to seven Pro Bowls players and was the Associated Press’s Defensive Player of the Year for 1978. This is the fourth time he has been selected in the Hall of Fame playoffs (2003, 2008 and 20).
The Seniors finalists, which includes players who played no later than 1996, include Ken Anderson, Maxi Baughan, Chuck Hawley, Cecil Ezell, Joe Clico, Bob Kutchenberg, Eddie Medor, Tommy Nobis, Ken Riley, Sterling Sharpe and Iverson Wales.
Reeves, who died on January 1, was the Broncos coach from 1981 to 1992 and led the team to six playoffs and three Super Bowls (each loss). His 110 regular season wins are the second largest in franchise history.
In his 23 years as head coach for the Broncos, New York Giants (1993-1996) and Atlanta (1997-2003), Reeves went 201-174-2.
Shanahan worked as an assistant for the Broncos on two tours before returning as head coach from 1995-2008. He led the team to consecutive Super Bowl titles in 1997-98 and 138 regular season wins are the most in Broncos history.
Shanahan had a career record of 178-144 for the Raiders (1988-89), the Broncos and Washington (2010-13).
Other nominees for Coach/Contributor are Ron Arledge, Don Correll, Mike Holmgren, Frank “Paco” Kilroy, Robert Kraft, Art Model, Paddy Parker, Art Rooney Jr., Clark Shaughnessy and John Wootten.