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Old 06-21-2010, 09:49 AM   #1
The Moops
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Default Billy Thompson for Hall of Fame!

I know everyone has their own list of Broncos who should be in the Hall of Fame. We all know Gradishar is due and modern players, such as Sharpe, Davis, Rod Smith, Nalen and more deserve to be in there . . .

But let's take a fresh look at the MOST overlooked Bronco when it comes to Hall of Fame candidates . . . our own Billy Thompson, still with the Broncos organization! Not only was one of the key leaders of the Orange Crush defense, he was a complete safety who could hit the lights out of ball carriers and receivers and cover like glue.

Some other things fans probably don't know about Billy Thompson . . .

* Only player in NFL history to lead the league in punt returns and kickoff returns in the same season (1969, as a rookie!)

* 3x Pro Bowler, 1x All-Pro (better than new HOFer Dick LeBeau)

* First Bronco to play 13 seasons (and in 3 decades, 1969-80)

* 2nd most games played in Broncos history -- 179

* Holds team record for most defensive turnovers (40 interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries)

* Scored 7 TDs -- 3 interception returns and 4 fumbles.

The guy was a playmaker!
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:46 AM   #2
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Plus, like Floyd, Billy helped lay the foundation . . . he started as a rookie in 1969 under Lou Saban.

They had a good defensive front then with Rich Jackson, Paul Smith, Pete Duranko, and Paul Costa but the other DBs starting with Billy included Grady Cavness, Gus Hollomon and Tom Oberg. Raise your hands if you've NEVER heard of any of them?!

Billy was Denver's only solid DB for 7 seasons until they drafted Louis Wright in 1975. The two of them, along with Gradishar, Tommy Jackson and Lyle Alzado spearheaded the Orange Crush defense. One of the greatest and overlooked defenses in NFL history. During the 1977 Super Bowl season that defense kept half of the opponents (7) to less than 10 points.

That's amazing!
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:50 AM   #3
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If I'm not mistaken dident Billy Thompson hold the record for forced fumbles for years?

I know he held a legue wide defensive record for quite awhile.
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:52 AM   #4
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Billy is a great human being as well. I met him in Canton in 2004 and talked to him for a while. He was instrumental in getting my pictures autographed by Ed McCaffrey in 2001 as well. That is me in the Orange jacket in the background.
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Old 06-22-2010, 08:07 AM   #5
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Any stats you come across that are different/better than what I found would be awesome. I'm just starting to dig up compelling stats about Billy that I didn't know . . . It's unfortunate that he played in an era where a lot of defensive stats weren't kept, like sacks, etc.
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Old 06-25-2010, 11:13 AM   #6
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Billy will be on Mile High Sports Radio 1510 am Sunday . . . not sure what time.

I'll be on at 10:40 am.
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Old 06-25-2010, 09:06 PM   #7
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I like that you mention Thompson(and are from NJ)... he deserves a look. Not sure if he will make it before guys like Gradishar, T-Jackson, Louis Wright, etc... so who knows.
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Old 06-26-2010, 11:37 AM   #8
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Thanks, yes, Billy definitely needs to be discussed . . . when you're the only player in NFL history to lead the league in kickoffs and punt returns in the same season -- plus you played 13 seasons as a pro bowl corner and safety . . . and an impact leader on one of the greatest defenses in history, you have to be discussed for HOF consideration.
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Old 06-27-2010, 08:05 AM   #9
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Thanks, yes, Billy definitely needs to be discussed . . . when you're the only player in NFL history to lead the league in kickoffs and punt returns in the same season -- plus you played 13 seasons as a pro bowl corner and safety . . . and an impact leader on one of the greatest defenses in history, you have to be discussed for HOF consideration.
Billy Thompson was a great DB. I particularly favor Louis Wright but Billy was right there with him. He was as solid a player that Denver has had play on the defense. The trouble with any national recognition is that NOBODY knows or remembers much about him outside of the fans that strongly followed teams playing in the AFC West. Except for Alzado, no one from the 77 SB will make the HOF. He made it because he was a Raider and won a SB. An an older Bronco fan, I still have a tremendous love for that Bronco team and players like Billy Thompson, Gradishar, Jackson, Wright, Carter, Chavous, Moses, etc. Why Because that group of players weren't supposed to have accomplished what they did and they had very little history of winning. They truly played as a team with no superstar attitudes. A great time in Denver, much better than the two Superbowl winning teams in some respects.
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Old 06-27-2010, 10:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Moops View Post
I know everyone has their own list of Broncos who should be in the Hall of Fame. We all know Gradishar is due and modern players, such as Sharpe, Davis, Rod Smith, Nalen and more deserve to be in there . . .

But let's take a fresh look at the MOST overlooked Bronco when it comes to Hall of Fame candidates . . . our own Billy Thompson, still with the Broncos organization! Not only was one of the key leaders of the Orange Crush defense, he was a complete safety who could hit the lights out of ball carriers and receivers and cover like glue.

Some other things fans probably don't know about Billy Thompson . . .

* Only player in NFL history to lead the league in punt returns and kickoff returns in the same season (1969, as a rookie!)

* 3x Pro Bowler, 1x All-Pro (better than new HOFer Dick LeBeau)

* First Bronco to play 13 seasons (and in 3 decades, 1969-80)

* 2nd most games played in Broncos history -- 179

* Holds team record for most defensive turnovers (40 interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries)

* Scored 7 TDs -- 3 interception returns and 4 fumbles.

The guy was a playmaker!
One can certainly make a case for Bill Thompson into the Hall of Fame.

I'll help your case with some stats.

First, the overall stats:

http://www.pro-football-reference.co...T/ThomBi01.htm

Defensive Interceptions, 74th all-time:

http://www.pro-football-reference.co...int_career.htm

Total punt returns, 64th all-time:

http://www.pro-football-reference.co...ret_career.htm

Punt return yards, 37th all-time:

http://www.pro-football-reference.co...yds_career.htm

Yds per punt return, 14th all-time:

http://www.pro-football-reference.co...ret_career.htm

A case for BT into the HOF can certainly be made. He was one of the best, played 179 games in the NFL, a solid citizen throughout his career. He was part of the glue Joe Collier depended on to make those fabled Orange Crush D's.

Add onto that the punt returns and the KO returns (somewhat), and yeah, he's HOF worthy.

Jeez, look at the punt returns. Dude played 179 games at CB and safety, 74th all-time on the INT list, and still is 14th all-time on punt return average, 37th in total punt return yards. That's dang awesome. Despite ONLY being 64th all-time in total punt returns attempted.

BT was a playmaker.
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Old 06-27-2010, 10:26 AM   #11
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Thanks for the comments.

Actually, Alzado is not in the HOF and because of his admitted steroid use probably will never make it.

Billy needs to be discussed for sure. I think he will gain some steam in the next few years.

Regarding players from that 77 team, I think Gradishar will make it because he was a finalist numerous times as a modern player. Louis Wright was on the 70s All Decade team, so he deserves consideration and let's not forget Tommy Jackson. Some HOF offensive linemen I have spoken to say Tommy was a better LB than Gradishar.
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Old 06-27-2010, 11:15 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by The Moops View Post
Thanks for the comments.

Actually, Alzado is not in the HOF and because of his admitted steroid use probably will never make it.

Billy needs to be discussed for sure. I think he will gain some steam in the next few years.

Regarding players from that 77 team, I think Gradishar will make it because he was a finalist numerous times as a modern player. Louis Wright was on the 70s All Decade team, so he deserves consideration and let's not forget Tommy Jackson. Some HOF offensive linemen I have spoken to say Tommy was a better LB than Gradishar.
Sorry I missed your show this week. Yeah, BT should be discussed as a potential HOF man. But Denver was dismissed as a backwater in those days. A flash in the pan, a 'one-dimensional team'. The one dimension being the D, and maybe Rick Upchurch.

As an aside, for posterity's sake, I rememember Howard Cosell on MNF continually ragging on the Broncos as nothing but a Defense.

Good story (or, maybe not so good, let's say interesting story) - I went to a MNF game at Mile High in 1977 with Dandy Don, Cosell and the MNF crew live at Mile High of course, and after the game we were walking out as the MNF crew were trying to get to their limo's. They were pelted with an unbelievable amount of trash, spit, insults. I mean, just unbelievable stuff. They had a ring of tall cops around them, probably every Denver cop 6'6 and above. Those cops were not happy, since they took a bunch of trash and spit on their hats. They escorted the MNF crew to the limo's, then turned on the crowd real fast and the nightsticks came out. Boy, those cops were pissed off.

So, the national media doesn't like Denver all that much, there's some residuals. It got pretty brutal here. Denver was certainly not a genteel town back in the 70's.
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Old 06-27-2010, 11:21 AM   #13
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Great story. I remember watching the Broncos first appearance on Monday Night Football in 1973, the famous 23-23 tie vs Oakland.

I think that's where Denver fans first got upset about lack of respect. I mean the Falcons and Saints were on MNF before Denver and they joined the NFL back in 1967 & 68. It took 4 years for Denver to make it on MNF.

I know for a long time Floyd Little talked about lack of respect as far back as 1971 when he was the only Bronco voted to the Pro Bowl after leading the NFL in rushing.
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Old 06-27-2010, 11:24 AM   #14
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Oh, and speaking of Rick Upchurch . . . an absolutely travesty that he is not in the Ring of Fame. He was a 4x Pro Bowler and 3x All Pro.

In 1998, Total Football II, the NFL encyclopedia listed the top 300 players of all-time. Rick Upchurch was one of them.
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Old 06-27-2010, 01:23 PM   #15
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Upchurch was a piece of the puzzle when he played.

10,081 all purpose yards, 24 TD's.

http://www.pro-football-reference.co...U/UpchRi00.htm

The team fed off his punt returns, same as they did with Bill Thompson's punt returns.

22nd all-time in punt returns:

http://www.pro-football-reference.co...ret_career.htm

10th all-time in punt return yardage:

http://www.pro-football-reference.co...yds_career.htm

9th all-time in punt returns avg per return:

http://www.pro-football-reference.co...yds_career.htm

Jeez, between Bill Thompson and Rick Upchurch, the years between 1969 and 1983 Denver had one of the top punt return games in the NFL. Punt returns are a big part of the game.
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Old 06-27-2010, 03:55 PM   #16
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What about this guy?

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Old 06-27-2010, 04:37 PM   #17
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Gonsoulin played in a different era, but the guy averaged like 6 INTS a year for over 8 years. He should be looked at as well, as he is one of the most underrated players in Broncos history.
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Old 06-27-2010, 04:58 PM   #18
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I agree about Goose, one of the first 4 Ring of Famers . . . Floyd, Lionel Taylor, Rich Jackson the others.

Here's the thing . . . when it comes to Broncos who should be considered for the Hall there's a backlog too.

Put aside Gradishar, who will definitely get in the next 5 years, and the modern players . . . Shannon Sharpe, TD, Rod Smith, Steve Atwater, Tom Nalen . . . all who should get in, and let's look at the throwback Broncos for a second.

You have Goose Gonsoulin: 5x Pro Bowler, 2x All Pro led AFL in ints in 1962 with 11.

Lionel Taylor: 4x 1,000 yard seasons. Led AFL in receptions 4 years in a row and 5 overall. First player in either league to grab 100-plus passes in a season. 4 x All Pro

Rich Jackson: 4 x Pro Bowler . . . who, in a 5-year period from 1967-71, was hands down the best DE in the game. If you give Gale Sayers a pass on offense because of the knee injuries, you have to do the same on defense with Jackson's knees. Let's put it this way . . . there has to be room in the HOF for a guy nicknamed "Tombstone"

Billy Thompson: as stated earlier, the most versatile DB from his era.

Louis Wright: a shutdown corner, 5x Pro Bowler, 2x AP named to the 70s all decade team.

Tommy Jackson: played 14 seasons, 177 games, 3x Pro Bowler, 1x All Pro. As I said, there are numerous offensive linemen from his era who believe he was just as good if not better than Gradishar.

RING OF FAME: Rick Upchurch
And let's not forget Riley Odoms, a 4x Pro Bowler, 2x All Pro who put up better numbers than HOFer Charlie Sanders.
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Old 06-27-2010, 09:22 PM   #19
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Thanks for the comments.

Actually, Alzado is not in the HOF and because of his admitted steroid use probably will never make it.

Billy needs to be discussed for sure. I think he will gain some steam in the next few years.

Regarding players from that 77 team, I think Gradishar will make it because he was a finalist numerous times as a modern player. Louis Wright was on the 70s All Decade team, so he deserves consideration and let's not forget Tommy Jackson. Some HOF offensive linemen I have spoken to say Tommy was a better LB than Gradishar.
Sorry about that. I assumed Alzado was on the team because he performed well enough to be there. The steroids is a legit reason for him not to be.

I certainly agree with Gradishar and Wright deserving to be there but I still don't think either will be. It took an act of God to get Floyd there and he certainly would have made it earlier if the team wasn't so horrid.
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Old 06-28-2010, 04:12 AM   #20
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When it comes to Alzado, the Hall should look at probably the other 60% or so from that era (1971-86) that I'm sure did steroids. He just admitted it . . . I mean, you don't think LT did roids?
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Old 06-28-2010, 05:00 AM   #21
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When it comes to Alzado, the Hall should look at probably the other 60% or so from that era (1971-86) that I'm sure did steroids. He just admitted it . . . I mean, you don't think LT did roids?
Oh, you mean the Pittsburgh Steelers?
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Old 06-28-2010, 05:21 AM   #22
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I know everyone has their own list of Broncos who should be in the Hall of Fame. We all know Gradishar is due and modern players, such as Sharpe, Davis, Rod Smith, Nalen and more deserve to be in there . . .

But let's take a fresh look at the MOST overlooked Bronco when it comes to Hall of Fame candidates . . . our own Billy Thompson, still with the Broncos organization! Not only was one of the key leaders of the Orange Crush defense, he was a complete safety who could hit the lights out of ball carriers and receivers and cover like glue.

Some other things fans probably don't know about Billy Thompson . . .

* Only player in NFL history to lead the league in punt returns and kickoff returns in the same season (1969, as a rookie!)

* 3x Pro Bowler, 1x All-Pro (better than new HOFer Dick LeBeau)

* First Bronco to play 13 seasons (and in 3 decades, 1969-80)

* 2nd most games played in Broncos history -- 179

* Holds team record for most defensive turnovers (40 interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries)

* Scored 7 TDs -- 3 interception returns and 4 fumbles.

The guy was a playmaker!
Played 13 seasons with the Broncos. Wow!
That's almost unheard of these days.
It sure seems he has the credentials to be a HOFer and then some.
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Old 06-28-2010, 10:54 AM   #23
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When it comes to Alzado, the Hall should look at probably the other 60% or so from that era (1971-86) that I'm sure did steroids. He just admitted it . . . I mean, you don't think LT did roids?

With LT, I don't know. Given the timing and his freakish level of performance above his peers, it makes one skeptical. Certainly his post career life performance would not make one suspicious (tongue in cheek).
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:29 PM   #24
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When it comes to Alzado, the Hall should look at probably the other 60% or so from that era (1971-86) that I'm sure did steroids. He just admitted it . . . I mean, you don't think LT did roids?
Alzado was a character. Remember he fought Muhammad Ali. Funny story, Alzado showed up at TC I believe it was with a black eye and some other injuries, he had obviously been in a pretty good fistfight. He claimed three guys jumped him. The next day a guy about 5'10, 180 lbs went on TV and said he beat Alzado's ass because Alzado said something to him he didn't like.

Dude was still pissed off at Alzado, made no bones about it. IIRC, he said "I kicked his ass, and I'll do it again if he wants to run his mouth to me again." Alzado kept his head down in the media, never brought up those "three guys" again. Dude that kicked his ass was never charged with anything.
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:58 PM   #25
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I agree about Goose, one of the first 4 Ring of Famers . . . Floyd, Lionel Taylor, Rich Jackson the others.

Here's the thing . . . when it comes to Broncos who should be considered for the Hall there's a backlog too.

Put aside Gradishar, who will definitely get in the next 5 years, and the modern players . . . Shannon Sharpe, TD, Rod Smith, Steve Atwater, Tom Nalen . . . all who should get in, and let's look at the throwback Broncos for a second.

You have Goose Gonsoulin: 5x Pro Bowler, 2x All Pro led AFL in ints in 1962 with 11.

Lionel Taylor: 4x 1,000 yard seasons. Led AFL in receptions 4 years in a row and 5 overall. First player in either league to grab 100-plus passes in a season. 4 x All Pro

Rich Jackson: 4 x Pro Bowler . . . who, in a 5-year period from 1967-71, was hands down the best DE in the game. If you give Gale Sayers a pass on offense because of the knee injuries, you have to do the same on defense with Jackson's knees. Let's put it this way . . . there has to be room in the HOF for a guy nicknamed "Tombstone"

Billy Thompson: as stated earlier, the most versatile DB from his era.

Louis Wright: a shutdown corner, 5x Pro Bowler, 2x AP named to the 70s all decade team.

Tommy Jackson: played 14 seasons, 177 games, 3x Pro Bowler, 1x All Pro. As I said, there are numerous offensive linemen from his era who believe he was just as good if not better than Gradishar.

RING OF FAME: Rick Upchurch
And let's not forget Riley Odoms, a 4x Pro Bowler, 2x All Pro who put up better numbers than HOFer Charlie Sanders.
Well, looking at denverbroncos.com I see there's now 21 members in the Ring of Fame.

http://www.denverbroncos.com/page.php?id=147

John Ralston, Upchurch, should be up there. Riley Odoms, he was kind of a pimp, actually. Good football player, but had a pimp mentality.

John Ralston should be in the Ring, hell, he put together the Bronco team that finally won something. Ralston built that team with draft picks like Louis Wright, Riley Odoms, Paul Howard, Barney Chavous, Otis Armstrong, Tom Jackson, Randy Gradishar, Claudie Minor, Rick Upchurch, Steve Foley (Broncos all-time INT leader), Rubin Carter.

Steve Foley should also be in the Ring.
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