Schon: Steve Atwater Joins "Ring of Fame"

Former Denver Broncos safety Steve Atwater becomes the latest inductee in the Ring of Fame. As team owner Pat Bowlen emphasized, "It was a short discussion, and the vote was unanimous."

His smile was enough to light up any room – his hits on the football field were enough to rattle your brain. Such are the two sides of Steve Atwater, the Denver Broncos newest inductee into their Ring of Fame.

Ask Christian Okoye, former Kansas City Chiefs running back, what it felt like to be on the wrong side of an Atwater hit. The legendary NFL Films clip is continues to be aired on ESPN Classics, and is considered to be one of the hardest hits in league history.

To this day Atwater is reminded about the hit, despite being out of the league since 1999.

"I had a guy say something to me about that yesterday," Atwater told reporters on Monday. He said, "Yeah, you're the guy who hit Christian Okoye. I've probably seen it a hundred times. My kids, they love watching it. They'll put (the videotape) in a couple times a year."

Working as a money manager for an investment company in Atlanta now, the former Broncos safety was a no-brainer when it came to his induction into the Broncos Ring of Fame.

"For those of you that have been around here for a while, you remember Steve as one of the greatest Broncos ever," Owner Pat Bowlen said. "Eight Pro Bowls, two Super-Bowls and he never missed a game as a Bronco. Let's just say it was a short discussion, and the vote was unanimous."

Atwater helped cement his place if franchise history during Denver's back to back Super Bowls, specifically Super Bowl XXXII, in which he had six solo tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and two pass breakups, in the Broncos' 31-24 victory against Green Bay.

Although he's never had the opportunity to play inside the new Invesco Field Stadium, the idea of being immortalized in the Ring of Fame, alongside the likes of John Elway and Gary Zimmerman holds special meaning to Atwater.

"I was just sitting at my desk thinking about that. For years to come, everyone that comes into the stadium will see my name up there and when I look up there now, after all of the years I played there, it will be a very special feeling. Seeing all of the other great names up there will make it super special because that will be there for a long time after I am gone."

The induction will take place on October 9th when the Broncos take on the Washington Redskins.

"I'm sure the fans will be excited about it because as we all know he was a big fan favorite here in Denver," Bowlen said.

"As I look back over my 22 years, he was certainly one of the top players to ever play for any of the teams I've been involved with. I obviously will love to see the day that he will be elected into the Hall of Fame because I think he is very deserving."

Denver Broncos Ring of Fame

Player Position Broncos career Year elected
Steve Atwater Safety 1989-98 2005
John Elway Quarterback 1983-98 1999
Austin "Goose" Gonsoulin Safety 1960-66 1984
Randy Gradishar Linebacker 1974-83 1989
Rich Jackson Defensive end 1967-72 1984
Tom Jackson Linebacker 1973-86 1992
Charley Johnson Quarterback 1972-75 1986
Floyd Little Running back 1967-75 1984
Karl Mecklenburg Linebacker 1983-94 2001
Craig Morton Quarterback 1977-82 1988
Haven Moses Receiver 1972-81 1988
Gerald Phipps Owner 1961-81 1985
Dennis Smith Safety 1981-94 2001
Paul Smith Defensive tackle 1968-78 1986
Lionel Taylor Receiver 1960-66 1984
Billy Thompson Defensive back 1969-81 1987
Frank Tripucka Quarterback 1960-63 1986
Jim Turner Kicker 1971-79 1988
Louis Wright Cornerback 1975-86 1993
Gary Zimmerman Offensive lineman 1993-97 2003


Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past nine years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.

Schon can be reached at
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