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bsn BSN: The Mount Rushmore of Denver Sports by the experts

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    *** EDITOR’S NOTE: This feature was originally published in July of 2015. Because of our significant growth since that time, we felt it was appropriate to give it another run. ***

    Each head writer of every team at BSN Denver was tasked to pick ONE player to represent that team on the Mount Rushmore of Denver Sports. Players were selected for greatest overall impact on that team/program. Without further ado, we present BSN Denver’s Mount Rushmore of Denver Sports!

    Denver Broncos

    John Elway

    When it comes to the greatest player to ever don a blue and orange Broncos helmet, is there even a debate to be had? Floyd Little, Randy Gradishar, Karl Mecklenburg, Steve Atwater, Shannon Sharpe, Gary Zimmerman, Terrell Davis, Champ Bailey; these are the few that Denver die-hards have worshiped for their playing prowess.

    Still, Elway reigns supreme.

    For nearly his entire 16-year career, the Broncos were built around No. 7; an old-school gun-slinger, who wasn’t afraid to make a mistake, with wheels built to run for first downs. His competitive drive is as legendary as “The Drive” he constructed to lead Denver over the Browns in Cleveland during the 1986 AFC Championship Game.

    Elway carried those 80s teams on his broad shoulders to those three Super failures. His appeal is born from the ability to do anything and everything in his power to lead the team to victory.

    In the early 90s, Elway kept leading a team which was devoid of enough playmakers; he continued to win – and sometimes lose – games all by himself.

    [​IMG]Then came the mid-90s, Mike Shanahan and Terrell Davis. Shanny’s master mind devised an offense which would take the pressure off Elway as the Broncos leaned on Davis’ running behind the offensive line and genius zone-blocking system. It wasn’t all Davis – even though he was the best player in the NFL in 1998 – who pushed Denver to those back-to-back Super Bowls, Sharpe was in his prime while Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey gave Elway talented targets.

    Of course Elway needed all that help to win a Super Bowl; football is a total team game and those two teams were undoubtedly the best in Broncos history.

    But, leading those teams was the Duke of Denver, both in the locker room and on the field of battle. His “helicopter play” defines Elway’s competitive fire, thrusting his 37-year old body into the air and into three Green Bay Packers for a much-needed first down in Super Bowl XXXII. Even in his twilight, Elway did anything he could to win, and when he retired, was the winningest quarterback to play in the NFL.

    Elway set too many Broncos franchise records to list here and became the first ever player from the Mile High City to be inducted in the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

    Following Elway’s retirement in 1999, then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said this of No. 7, “And to the game of football, John Elway was the greatest ambassador imaginable. He combined talent and character to become an incomparable performer and champion on the field.”

    John Elway, greatest Denver Bronco ever.

    Colorado Rockies

    Todd Helton

    When it comes to the Mount Rushmore representative for the Colorado Rockies, the choice is simple. The debate begins and ends with Todd Helton.

    [​IMG]The only Rockie to have his number retired is also the holder of nearly every offensive record that is available to be held.

    While most Rockies fans understand how great Helton was in a Rockies uniform, much of his career was spent free of highlight shows, and void of much national attention. During the time Helton was racking up the numbers, the rest of the team was in shambles. General Manager Dan O’Dowd was trying to right the wrongs that he made early in his career as GM.

    The critics of Helton will argue that he never won an MVP award and that when the Rockies were actually competitive, Helton was on the downside of his career. They also point to Coors Field being a huge factor in his success and the only reason why he had superstar numbers.

    What the critics won’t acknowledge is the fact that Helton never received the national credit that he deserved because of the fact that he played on bad teams and because he played at Coors Field. Take a look at Helton’s numbers in 2000, the year when he finished a ridiculous fifth place in the National League MVP vote.

    In 2000, Helton hit a robust .353 with a 1.074 OPS, 15 home runs and 59 RBIs, and those are just his numbers on the road.

    Think about that for one minute. The Rockies are notorious for leaving their bats at Coors Field. When they go on the road they hit light and hope for a quick return to Denver. If that was the case for the rest of the team in 2000, think how difficult it would have been for Helton to maintain those numbers.
    It wasn’t just 2000 either. Helton notched 2,519 hits, 1,406 RBIs, 369 home runs and 592 doubles, all in a Rockies uniform. His 17 seasons were years that Rockies fans will never forget, even if the only thing going for the team was Helton.

    Colorado Avalanche

    Joe Sakic

    When considering the artful dominance of Peter Forsberg or the raw intensity of Patrick Roy, arguably the greatest goaltender in NHL history, it can be easy to overlook the sustained brilliance of Joe Sakic.

    [​IMG]His statistical claim to history puts him in the top 10 scorers of all time and his legendary accomplishments show him to be among the most clutch playoff performers of all-time. As the team’s only captain during his time in Colorado, Sakic also set the tone for a franchise that would go on to set the NHL record for consecutive division titles won, twice win the President’s Trophy, given annually to the NHL’s top re
    gular season team, and of course win the Stanley Cup twice.

    Nothing defined Sakic’s quiet brilliance more than his decision to immediately hand off the 2001 Stanley Cup to teammate Ray Bourque, an unprecedented act of selflessness that produced one of the greatest moments in sports history. At the end of the day, the choice for Sakic was an easy one. Only one of those retired jerseys in the Pepsi Center has the “C” on its chest for a reason.

    Denver Nuggets

    Alex English

    The Denver Nuggets franchise is one with few longterm mainstays and only a handful of Hall-of-Fame players, yet Alex English transcends both of these categories. English is without question the single greatest Denver Nugget of all time. He might not have been the most innately talented, but his commitment to the Nuggets for an entire decade in the 1980s solidified his status as a Denver basketball god in the hearts and minds of Nuggets fans everywhere.
    [​IMG]As one of the most lethal offensive talents in NBA history, English won the league scoring title in 1983 and scored more points than any other player in the NBA throughout the 80’s. Behind his prolific attack English also led the Nuggets to nine straight postseason appearances and a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 1985. English now sits at 17th on the NBA’s all-time points-scored list ahead of guys like Charles Barkley, Larry Bird and Jerry West. In addition to remaining the Nuggets all-time leader in points scored, English is also the franchise leader in offensive rebounds, assists and games played.
    While his stats are indeed gaudy, what truly cements English as the greatest Nugget of all time is his role in Denver Nuggets basketball history. English was the best player on the best teams of the Nuggets’ best era. He was the hero, the protagonist, the poster-boy of Doug Moe‘s fast-break offense that defined the Nuggets not only during the 1980s, but well into the future. Even to this very day the Nuggets are continuing to try and replicate what Moe and English accomplished on the basketball court during the Nuggets’ golden epoch.
    There will likely be Nuggets better than English in the future. Hell, there might already have been. But what’s almost certain is that it will be a very long time before another player with as much talent as English is able to represent the city of Denver in such a professional manner and at the same time forge an unmistakable identity that will reverberate for decades to come. [​IMG]
    Collegiate Selections

    University of Colorado

    Byron “Whizzer” White

    Man, I feel like I’ve been on a real history kick lately, but to find the greatest Buff of all-time, you have to go way back.

    [​IMG]Byron “Whizzer” White, played halfback… and quarterback… and defensive back…and kicker…for the Colorado football team… Oh, and he played for the baseball team (.400 hitter)… Oh, and the basketball team too…in the mid-1930’s.

    White’s senior football season, in 1937, was the first season that statistics were ever recorded officially in the NCAA, and Whizzer’s year is still considered one of the best ever. He lead the league in rushing, scoring, total offense and all-purpose running. The “60 minute-performer” as he was called for his performance in all three facets of the game, averaged 246 all-purpose yards per game, a record not topped until the great Barry Sanders came along.

    White became Colorado’s first all-american in any sport that year, as he lead the Buffaloes to a 8-0 regular season, and the school’s first ever bowl bid.

    Whizzer, as he was named by a local reporter who said he seemed to “whiz” by opponents, is still the owner of double digit records in the Colorado record book, and it is estimated he held more than 40 records at one point.

    As a student, White completed 186 credit hours, with 180 of those resulting in an A grade, 6 resulting in B’s. He was the student body president, and Rhodes Scholar.

    After CU, White was drafted 4th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates (now Steelers), where he lead the league in rushing as a rookie and became the leagues highest paid player. He then casually left football to attend Oxford College in England.

    After Oxford, he came back to the NFL and led the league in rushing again in 1940, then left the league after the 1941 season to join the United States Navy in WWII. He Served an intelligence officer and received two bronze medals for his work.

    Instead of returning to the NFL after the war, White instead decided to attend Law School at Yale where he graduated Magna *** Laude in 1946.

    Oh yeah, and then after practicing law in Denver for a number of years, White was appointed SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, by President John F. Kennedy, where he served from 1962 to 1993.

    So yeah, Byron White is the greatest Buff ever.

    Colorado State University

    Thurman “Fum” McGraw

    Colorado State University is stepped in sports tradition, making the decision on which athlete to highlight a difficult one. Bradlee Van Pelt immediately comes to mind, as does Joey Porter, Greg Myers and Joel Dreessen representing CSU football. Lesser known Gary Glick is the Rams’ only Professional Football Hall of Fame inductee, but it’s not him either as greatest athlete. Martin Laird of the PGA and former decathlon gold medalist Glenn Morris also earn honorable mention, but Thurman “Fum”

    [​IMG]McGraw is the most remarkable Ram.

    As an athlete, McGraw was an All-American in three sports; track, wrestling and football. He stands as the only Colorado State athlete to accomplish the feat. “Fum” was the first Colorado A&M Aggies football player to be named consensus All-American in 1948 and 1949 before being drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1950. McGraw played for five seasons with the Lions as a defensive tackle, helping them win two World Championships before an injury ended his career early.

    But for “Fum”, the legacy only begins with his playing days. He came back to Fort Collins to work for the university in a variety of roles, including serving as the CSU Athletic Director from 1976-86. In 1999, the “Fum” McGraw Athletic Center opened as an addition to Moby Arena, which is home to staff of the athletic department, coaches’ offices, ticket office and more.

    McGraw’s legacy will forever continue as fans sing “Fum’s Song,” which was discontinued at Sonny Lubick at Hughes Stadium due to the somewhat insensitive language used. Man, the 40s sound like a fun time.

    “I’ll sing you a song of college days, and tell you where to go.

    Aggies, where your knowledge is, and Boulder to spend your dough.

    C.C. for your sissy boys, and Utah for your times, D.U. for your ministers, and

    drunkards School of Mines.

    Don’t send my boy to Wyoming U. a dying mother said. Don’t send him to old Brigham

    Young, I’d rather see him dead.

    But send him to our Aggies, it’s better than Cornell.

    Before I’d see him in Boulder, I’d see my son in hell!”

    There you have it! Please feel free to discuss our choices and nominate your own in the comment section below!

    Adam Kinney
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