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Old 06-23-2009, 06:41 AM   #1
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Could it be that the sharp focus on Steve Atwater's signature play as a member of the Broncos' defense has diverted too much attention from his Hall of Fame credentials?

Even today, Atwater can be stopped on the street by strangers and be taken back to Sept. 17, 1990. It was "Monday Night Football" and the Kansas City Chiefs, featuring powerful running back Christian Okoye, were playing the Broncos at Mile High Stadium.

The Broncos won 24-23, but Atwater's crushing, head-on hit on Okoye is remembered more than the score. The tackle earned Atwater the nickname "The Assassin" and showed that the 6-foot-3, 217-pound safety from Arkansas could meet any NFL running back and hold his own.

"It's amazing how many people who saw that game still remember me for that play," said Atwater, who played for the Broncos from 1989-98. "I get a kick out of it. Some would tell me they watched me play when they were in high school. They looked like they were older than me."

Atwater wasn't a one-play phenomenon. From his position in the Broncos' secondary, Atwater set a team record with seven consecutive appearances in the Pro Bowl from 1990-96. He was selected all- pro in 1991, 1992 and 1996. After the Broncos picked him in the first round of the 1989 draft, he started all 155 games in his Denver career.

Atwater was at the top of his game in Super Bowl XXXII, when the Broncos won their first NFL championship by beating the Green Bay Packers 31-24 on Jan. 25, 1998, in San Diego. He contributed six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

"A big part of my success was our defensive system that allowed me to make plays," Atwater said. "It was suited for me. The two Super Bowl victories definitely were the highlights. The first one was special because it represented so much to the franchise. It did a great deal in overcoming the previous losses we had."

After leaving the Broncos, Atwater played the 1999 season with the New York Jets. He remembers a tough October

Steve Atwater played safety so well, he ended up in the Broncos' Ring of Fame. (John Leyba, Denver Post file photo )afternoon when the Jets came to Denver and won 21-13.
"It felt really odd being on the other sideline," Atwater said. "I was crying, and I remember looking over to the other sideline and thinking to myself, 'That's my team over there.' "

Atwater keeps track of the Broncos from his home base in Atlanta. He founded a real estate management company after retiring from the NFL. The company has offices in 30 states, including Colorado.

"I was a little bit shocked when Mike Shanahan was let go," Atwater said. "I know that Mike and Pat Bowlen had a great relationship. It was a tough decision, but when you run a business, there are tough decisions that have to be made."

Atwater, 42, believes he left the Broncos on good terms. His feelings were enforced when he was inducted as a member of the team's Ring of Fame in 2005.

"I think a lot of people wondered how I would take it when I was released after the 1998 season," At- water said. "I had a conversation with Mike and Pat and I understood it was a business decision. I had to deal with it, but I came back and retired as a Bronco. The end comes either because of retirement or because of injuries."

As for the Hall of Fame, Atwater takes the lack of attention in stride.

"There are players from all over the league who aren't in the Hall of Fame but think they should be," Atwater said. "I think I'm deserving, but I'm not too disappointed about it. For some reason, the Broncos' defense hasn't gotten the respect it deserved."

Atwater noted that a lot of former players believe the voting system is flawed. They think players and fans should be involved in the voting, instead of a selection committee of sports media. Atwater would vote for a number of former Denver defensive stars, including Dennis Smith, Randy Gradishar, Louis Wright, Tom Jackson, Billy Thompson, Karl Mecklenburg and Rulon Jones.

"I love coming back to Denver for the Broncos' reunions," Atwater said. "We have a great fraternity of players who shed blood and tears together. More than all the games and the money, the things that I took from it and enjoyed the most were the lifelong friendships I made throughout the league."

Atwater bio

Born: Oct. 28, 1966, in Chicago

High school: Lutheran North, St. Louis

College: Arkansas

Family: Wife Letha; sons Stephen, DiAndre and Paris; daughter Malaysia

Hobby: Golf, but tears up the course
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:31 AM   #2
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Excellent. A good guy and a hell of a player. I miss the guy patroling back there like a shark. Super Bowl 32 belonged to him.
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Old 06-23-2009, 10:30 AM   #3
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What a stud. The hit in Super Bowl 32 was equally impressive as the Okoye hit in my opinion.
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Old 06-23-2009, 10:34 AM   #4
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i think the fact that he played with Dennis Smith hurts his "credibility" with the voters......D. Smith was another phenomenal player
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Old 06-23-2009, 10:54 AM   #5
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Both Smith & Atwater belong in Canton.
(at least in my opinion)
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Old 06-23-2009, 10:57 AM   #6
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Broncos franchise is 50 years old and we have 1 HOF player. Does this make any sense? You mean to tell me in half a century we only had one guy capable of making the HOF?

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Old 06-23-2009, 10:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirhcyennek81 View Post
Broncos franchise is 50 years old and we have 1 HOF player. Does this make any sense? You mean to tell me in half a century we only had one guy capable of making the HOF?

Actually we have 2.

And Sharpe should be getting in this season... *crosses fingers*
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Old 06-23-2009, 11:01 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by crush17 View Post
Actually we have 2.

And Sharpe should be getting in this season... *crosses fingers*

Just a hunch, but I dont think Sharpe makes it in next year. Or the year after.

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Old 06-23-2009, 11:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crush17 View Post
Actually we have 2.

And Sharpe should be getting in this season... *crosses fingers*
Sharpe should have been 1st ballot, and the fact that he wasn't only proves that their is a bias against Denver players and that he isn't going to get in for awhile.
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Old 06-23-2009, 11:38 AM   #10
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We need a guy like Atwater back there again, someone who will put some fear into people.
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Old 06-23-2009, 11:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirhcyennek81 View Post
Broncos franchise is 50 years old and we have 1 HOF player. Does this make any sense? You mean to tell me in half a century we only had one guy capable of making the HOF?

Gary Zimmerman says "Hi, remember me?"
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Old 06-23-2009, 12:03 PM   #12
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"clap, clap, clap, clap ,clap, clap"

Atwater is the man, Fav bronco of all-time.
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Old 06-23-2009, 12:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BroncoLifer View Post
Gary Zimmerman says "Hi, remember me?"

Spent most of his career in MN. And I was corrected on it already. So 1.5 HOF'ers in 50 years.


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Old 06-23-2009, 12:06 PM   #14
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I think that one play is Atwater but real football fans know he was more than a play/trick pony. He isnt in the HOF like so many that deserves to be in there. He deserves it and will take time. Maybe if he says he will go in as A NEW YORK Jet, he will get in next year.
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Old 06-23-2009, 12:12 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirhcyennek81 View Post
Just a hunch, but I dont think Sharpe makes it in next year. Or the year after.

It's a joke that he wasn't a 1st ballot.
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Old 06-23-2009, 12:13 PM   #16
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No way to ever forget how he decked Brett Favre in the first SB victory.

Favre went down like a rag doll
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Old 06-23-2009, 12:15 PM   #17
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Spent most of his career in MN. And I was corrected on it already. So 1.5 HOF'ers in 50 years.


Won SB with the Broncos. Retired a Bronco. He is a Bronco.
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Old 06-23-2009, 05:59 PM   #18
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My all-time favorite Bronco is Atwater.
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:35 PM   #19
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IMO the game Atwater played in the win over Green Bay was the most physical game any Bronco has ever played. Likely among the most physical games a d-back has ever had in a Superbowl.

He was truly impressive that day. It got to the point where he was taking out even his own players. But yeah he was killing people that day.
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:08 PM   #20
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I remember that hit like yesterday.
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Old 06-23-2009, 11:55 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BroncoLifer View Post
Gary Zimmerman says "Hi, remember me?"
Altough he was a memeber of the denver broncos he was never drafted and "brought up" as a bronco. therefore he is tainted. IMO
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Old 06-23-2009, 11:57 PM   #22
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[QUOTE=hilife;2453930]Won SB Then we should have considered Jerry rice a bronco .. which he was not he's a 9er
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Old 06-24-2009, 01:00 AM   #23
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Atwater's the reason for my pseudoname...they heard him coming even when he wasn't.
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