Sports

Denver Broncos Photo Tour of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Peyton Manning's bust and a Tim Tebow jersey are among the Denver Broncos artifacts on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Peyton Manning's bust and a Tim Tebow jersey are among the Denver Broncos artifacts on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Photos by Michael Roberts
What did I do on my summer vacation? Among other things, I paid visits to three major sports halls of fame: the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York; the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada; and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, which is gearing up for the annual Hall of Fame game. Scheduled for August 4, it will kick off the 2022-2023 season — a slate of games eagerly awaited by fans of the Denver Broncos, thanks to the arrival of quarterback Russell Wilson.

All three institutions have significant appeal for Colorado sports fans. But the Pro Football Hall of Fame is absolutely festooned with Broncos artifacts guaranteed to get loyalists fired up for the campaign to come.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame is the stodgiest facility of this trio. A lack of interactivity suggests that an upgrade is in order, and the overall tone is less about fun than reverence. The Colorado Rockies have only a modest presence here. There are a few random mementos, such as the pants that Eric Young Sr. wore when stealing six bases in a single game in 1996, but most of the Colorado curios pertain to the club's only World Series appearance back in 2007, which was won in a sweep by the Boston Red Sox. And only one Colorado player, Larry Walker, has been enshrined thus far; the gift shop had plenty of Walker T-shirts on deep discount.

Fortunately, I was more interested in seeing the plaque saluting my only ancestor to achieve anything like fame, as discovered in a genealogical search conducted by my late uncle: Three-Finger Mordecai Brown, who pitched for the Chicago Cubs during the early 1900s.
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A plaque commemorating the enshrinement of Three-Finger Mordecai Brown at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Photo by Michael Roberts
In contrast, the Hockey Hall of Fame was extremely entertaining, with free activities that allow visitors to try to block shots as a goalie and put the biscuit in the basket. Six Avs are Hall of Fame members — Jari Kurri, Rob Blake, Ray Bourque, Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy, who's the subject of multiple displays devoted to his playing days in Colorado and Montreal — and a separate case was already in place to celebrate the squad's Stanley Cup championship last month.
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A display at the Hockey Hall of Fame paying tribute to the 2022 Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.
Photo by Michael Roberts
The Pro Football Hall of Fame isn't quite as entertaining as its hockey-focused cousin. But residents of Broncos Country will find plenty to love, as the following photos demonstrate:
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Busts of the Denver Broncos who've been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. First row (left to right): Champ Bailey, Floyd Little, Gary Zimmerman. Second row (left to right): John Elway, Pat Bowlen, Peyton Manning. Third row (left to right): Shannon Sharpe, Steve Atwater, Terrell Davis.
Photos by Michael Roberts
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(Clockwise from upper left): A souvenir football from the Broncos' loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Denver's first trip to the Super Bowl; the Barrel Man's Orange Crush outfit as seen in a section devoted to super-fans; a display describing Dallas and Denver as the teams of the 1990s; a tribute to Pat Bowlen for helping negotiate the NFL's lucrative TV contract; a Tim Tebow jersey; a Terrell Davis helmet.
Photos by Michael Roberts
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(From left): A doll of Peyton Manning (in his Indianapolis Colts uniform) used in a popular television commercial; a Peyton Manning jersey accompanied by a photo of him with Demaryius Thomas as they celebrated his record-setting 509th touchdown pass; a mural showing the evolution of football, from Jim Thorpe to (naturally) Peyton Manning.
Photos by Michael Roberts
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Russell Wilson isn't a Hall of Fame member yet, but he's a major presence at the museum, albeit as a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
Photos by Michael Roberts
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A look at the Broncos' three Super Bowl rings — so far.
Photos by Michael Roberts
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts