The Case For The Broncos Ring Of Fame – Steve Watson

In the second of Thin Air’s series on considerations for the Broncos Ring of Fame is wide receiver Steve Watson. (1979-1987)

Should Steve Watson be in the Broncos Ring of Fame?

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Yesterday, we took a look at the candidacy of Ed McCaffrey.  Here is how Watson, who played the same position straddling the Orange Crush and John Elway eras, compares to McCaffrey:

  • Watson and McCaffrey each spent nine years in Denver.
  • Watson finished his career with 6,112 yards–at a time when the rise of the passing game was in its infancy–compared to 7,422 for McCaffrey.
  • Watson retired as 58th in all time receiving yards; McCaffrey retired 71st.
  • Watson led the Broncos in receiving yards in five seasons; McCaffrey never did. (Though he was two yards shy of Rod Smith in 1999.)
  • Both Watson and McCaffrey had three seasons over 1,000 yards; McCaffrey’s highest year is greater than Watson’s highest (1,317 vs.1,224), but Watson’s other two seasons are higher than McCaffrey’s (1,170 and 1,133 vs. 1,053 and 1,018).
  • Watson has a higher yards per reception (17.3 vs. 13.1), while McCaffrey has more touchdowns (55 vs. 36)
  • Both Watson and McCaffrey were named to one Pro Bowl.

As of today, almost three-quarters of Thin Air readers (72%) approved of Ed McCaffrey’s induction into the Ring of Fame. It will be curious to see how Steve Watson’s results compare.

  • Jeremy

    A couple other things to note. According to Wikipedia, Watson was an assistant coach for the Broncos from 2000-2008. Watson also went undrafted in 1979, when the draft had 12 rounds.

    I have a hard time not justifying Watson while also saying McCaffery should be in, especially since I never saw him play. I may abstain from voting. Fucking cognitive dissonance…

  • Yahmule

    Blade was a lot of fun to watch and he was my second Bronco jersey ever. Watson was big target @ 6’4″ and he was fearless over the middle back in the days when there was plenty to fear. He retired @ 30, after nine NFL seasons, all in Denver. The wear and tear of being the number one option in the passing game took a lot out of him. He never had a real quality WR starting opposite him. Rick Upchurch was a middle of the pack receiver despite being a dynamite return man. Since this was a Dan Reeves team, he had that loser ex-Cowboy Butch Johnson starting on the other side for the better part of two seasons. Riley Odoms was a solid option @ TE early in Watson’s career, but he was replaced by the likes of Ron Egloff. Watson also lost major playing time to the Three Big Egos and probably got tired of their squabbling. Once he left, we had no wideouts on the roster over 185 pounds. I don’t know if people really appreciate how small those Broncos teams from the mid-80’s were, especially in comparison to the NFC East teams that would brutalize them in the post season. Undersized on the O line and in the front seven, Smurf knockoff wideouts, 200 pound Sammy Winder @ RB and comparable guys behind him. Pro Football Weekly warned me about what was going to happen in those Super Bowls, but I didn’t want to hear it.

    • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

      “The Three Big Egos”. LMAO!!

      • BlackKnigh

        Well put!

      • VonSwenson

        I used to call them “My Three Sons”: Johnson, Jackson, Watson and eventually (Butch) Johnson.

        • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

          Did you mean Ricky Nattiel? Or did the joke go over my head?

          • bradley

            Look at the end of all thee names

          • PiperAR

            The Three fake Amigos were Vance Johnson, Mark Jackson, and Ricky Nattiel, yes. Before Nattiel, there was Butch Johnson and Clint Sampson, too. Basically every Bronco WR had a name ending in ‘son’ until Nattiel fucked it up.

          • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

            Thank you for clarifying. I would have never got that, considering my Bronco fandom started in 1988, but now that I do understand it, that is really clever!

          • MattR

            Don’t forget TE Orson Mobley.

        • PiperAR

          Clint Sampson.

          • VonSwenson

            FIVE sons!

    • BlackKnigh

      When Ralston drafted Odoms in ’72 – that gave Denver a really good option at TE they hadn’t had for some time. As the St Louis coach said after losing to Denver: something to the effect that they would have won had it not been for “that damn TE”. Odoms’ first season.

  • cjfarls

    Watson was great, and was the clear #1 even through the 86 season. I didn’t realize he was as big as he was, but agree… tough to lionize McCaffrey and ignore Watson.

    • Brian

      I voted “yes” on Watson and “no” on EM. I agree with the idea that it’s defensible to be “no” on both or “yes” on both, given their similarity in production. The reason I voted yes sw no EM is exactly what you said here, that Watson was a primary playmaking target in a conservative offense for several years. EM was always second (or third) banana, with perhaps two years of 1A and 1B with Smith. I don’t think being #2 WR means you can’t be RoF. If Sanders continued current production for 3ish more seasons, I would definitely consider his candidacy strongly. As a final note, I do recall times when I really wanted the offense to get the ball to Watson, while I never hoped that for EM.

  • WhoShotBobbyHumphrey

    Hmmm… I wonder what Nick’s vote is?

  • BlackKnigh

    One thing I really liked about Watson was that if you threw the ball close to him – he would snag it – unless it was knocked away. Pretty good hands. Yeah – I voted for him.

  • PiperAR

    So I google “John Elway and Sons” to see if there is a reference to Watson, Johnson 1 and 2, Jackson, and Sampson. There isn’t. But I did learn that Jack Elway would have run afoul of the NFL personal conduct policy, had he become an NFL player.

  • Kush-Lash

    Abstain. Can’t remember enough of his career.