|11-11-2005, 02:46 AM||#1|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Leucadia CA
Tom Nalen's nickname on the team is "Wilson"
Kiszla actually wrote an article you will all enjoy. Nalen is getting a lot of love right now. Pro Football Weekly just named Nalen to their Midseason All-Pro team.
Article Launched: 11/11/2005 01:00:00 AM
Nalen's success speaks volumes
By Mark Kiszla
Denver Post Staff Columnist
Maybe you know him as Tom Nalen, the most underappreciated player in the NFL.
The Broncos call him something else.
"Wilson," Denver linebacker Keith Burns said Thursday.
Say what? Please explain. I plead guilty to being tragically unhip.
"You remember that movie starring Tom Hanks?" Broncos veteran Al Wilson said. "The one where he was stranded on a deserted island?"
Oh, yeah. "Cast Away." A few years back, it played on two screens at every cineplex in America.
"Hanks talks to a volleyball with a face painted on it," said Burns, listing the physical similarities between the castaway and his ball. "Long hair. A beard. Just like Nalen."
Now I remember. Man's best friend: Wilson. Didn't talk much, as I recall. Always there when you needed him, though.
Remind you of any Broncos center you know?
Nalen has been there, smack in the middle of Denver's football success since 1994.
His uniform number is 66, more words than Nalen has grunted for public consumption in a dozen years.
If you're looking for a filibuster or a comb, the unkempt Nalen is not your guy.
If you're looking for the toughest Bronco of them all, the choices begin and end with a single name.
But please don't whisper it to anybody.
"Does it matter to a guy like Tom Nalen if he gets recognized? Not at all," former Broncos guard David Diaz-Infante said.
Since Nalen plopped himself in the huddle, the Broncos have won two Super Bowls and steamrolled a path for five 1,000-yard rushers, from Terrell Davis to Reuben Droughns.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is an Ohio roadside attraction I cannot take more seriously than a paperweight museum or a pumpkin patch until the NFL enshrines a Denver offensive lineman. Tackle Gary Zimmerman would be a good start.
The esteemed voters for the Hall must be dumb and blind if they haven't noticed the beauty of Nalen, who might clean up real nice to pose for a bronze bust.
"If Jim Brown or O.J. Simpson didn't have an offensive line, you wouldn't even be talking about them," said running back Mike Anderson, who rumbled for 1,487 yards behind Nalen in 2000. "You guys in the media get to vote for the Hall of Fame. Right? So what's the problem?"
Hey, don't blame me. When the electors convene in a smoke-filled room, I can't even get a whiff of their stinky cigars.
"Then you need to bust in that inner circle," Anderson said. "Start casting votes! Or tell your buddies to start voting for what the Broncos do best: running that football."
The crushing blocks of Nalen and Zimmerman should speak for themselves, with all the eloquence of the thud a defender makes when crashing to the turf.
The greatness of Denver's offensive line, however, has long been betrayed by a code of silence. A long-standing tradition mandates that active blockers take a vow of anonymity, even refusing to utter their own names when introduced on "Monday Night Football."
In pass protection, the Broncos are harder to move than the Sphinx - and about as chatty when the cameras roll.
Politics plays a role in every award, from the Nobel Prize to the Hall of Fame. If the select journalists who determine football immortality could get to know Nalen is not only fuzzy but warm, he might be remembered more fondly.
"I'm surprised they ever put any offensive lineman in the Hall of Fame. I thought there was a rule we only got in the building vicariously, through the skill guys," Diaz-Infante said.
"Should whether you talk to the media be a factor in consideration for the Hall of Fame? It shouldn't be. If you look at the production of the Denver offense, how could there not be a Denver offensive lineman in the Hall? Is Nalen as good as a Jim Otto? You could make that argument."
There has been loose talk quarterback Jake Plummer should be a candidate for most valuable player in the league.
But let's keep the real MVP of these Broncos a secret.
Nalen won't say a word if you don't.
Staff writer Mark Kiszla can be reached at 303-820-5438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|11-11-2005, 08:06 AM||#3|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: May 2001
Avs won last night, Nugs won Wednesday night, Buffs won last Saturday, and the Broncos were on a bye and 6-2. Must have killed Kizla that he had nothing to piss and moan about in his column.