Results from the first round are in, as you can see here in the updated bracket. Beyond the fold you will see the second round contests in list form that you can vote upon in the comments in this thread or by sending me a ballot via the contact form. But first, some commentary on how the first round went!
As expected, most of the higher seeds were unanimous choices to advance. Instead, I’ll focus on some of the interesting upsets:
- The northwest region will see two lower seeds face off against each other, as #12 Neil Smith defeated #5 Riley Odoms, and #13 Simon Fletcher defeated #4 Rich Jackson. Smith was an interesting victor, as he spent only three years in Denver. The rest of his illustrious career, he resided within AFC West rivals. Clearly, there was strong sentiment for the fact that the Broncos were able to get Smith his rings when the Chiefs were unable to.
Fletcher, on the other hand, was someone that I knew was grossly underseeded. This was because despite racking up 97.5 sacks in 11 years with the Broncos, he failed to gain a single Pro Bowl bid. There’s plenty of blame to go to forces external to Denver there.
- The southwest quadrant featured the only lower seed to defeat a higher seed unanimously. That was #10 Ed McCaffrey over #7 Lyle Alzado. I thought that a McCaffrey win was very possible, but I didn’t expect this kind of margin. Alzado was a controversial figure for sure, including crossing over to the dark side at the end of his career, but was nonetheless a core piece of the 1970s Orange Crush. But this result makes clear (and I can certainly feel it myself) just how popular McCaffrey is among Broncos fans, not only during his playing career, but in the way he’s endured in the Denver community afterwards.
- In the northeast quadrant, #11 Jake Plummer easily defeated #6 John Lynch. There was some discussion in the preview thread as to Lynch’s worthiness in this tournament. What I find interesting is that the general argument against Lynch (only playing four years in Denver at the twilight of his career) could easily apply to Plummer as well. However, it has certainly seemed that time has helped to rehabilitate Plummer’s image, who now has a good argument for being the next best Broncos quarterback after John Elway and Peyton Manning.
- In the southeast quadrant, #9 Alfred Williams easily defeated #8 Paul Smith, and #11 Mark Schlereth barely edged out #6 Bill Thompson. I’d be interested to know how much of their presences in the media help out Big Al and Stinky with their popularity.
With the first round in the books, we can now turn to the second round:
#1 Shannon Sharpe vs. #8 Sammy Winder
#12 Neil Smith vs. #13 Simon Fletcher
#6 Rod Smith vs. #3 Lionel Taylor
#7 Jason Elam vs. #2 Karl Mecklenburg
#1 Terrell Davis vs. #8 Otis Armstrong
#5 Al Wilson vs. #4 Austin Gonsoulin
#6 Tom Jackson vs. #3 Rick Upchurch
#10 Ed McCaffrey vs. #2 Champ Bailey
#1 Floyd Little vs. #8 Keith Bishop
#5 Peyton Manning vs. #4 Dennis Smith
#11 Jake Plummer vs. #3 Tom Nalen
#7 Dan Reeves vs. #2 Randy Gradishar
#1 Gary Zimmerman vs. #9 Alfred Williams
#5 Trevor Pryce vs. #4 Mike Shanahan
#11 Mark Schlereth vs. #3 Louis Wright
#7 Rulon Jones vs. #2 Steve Atwater