In the seventeenth of Thin Air’s series on considerations for the Broncos Ring of Fame is Riley Odoms (1972-1983).
I had a rough outline set up for the case for Riley Odoms earlier this week. But Bob decided to make his case forcefully on Wednesday, so I’ll just let his words speak for themselves.
You want to know what the biggest problem is with many people who rank tight ends these days? Answer: They think in terms of fantasy football, gravitating to guys who catch lots of passes and score lots of touchdowns. This is what makes some current Broncos fans believe Tony Scheffler and Julius Thomas are to be put on a pedestal, when in reality, both suffered from one problem: They were poor blockers.
Now, we know no Broncos tight end was better than Shannon Sharpe. But we also know it wasn’t simply because he caught a lot of passes and scored a lot of TDs – he excelled as a blocker, too. So who is the guy who should be ranked behind him as the second-best tight end to play for the Broncos?
The name you need to keep repeating is Riley Odoms. Although Odoms didn’t blow people away with eye-popping numbers, he was a reliable pass catcher who fell just four receptions shy of 400 for his career and scored 41 touchdowns. He was named to four Pro Bowls and was a two-time first team All-Pro selection. Most of all, he excelled as a blocker and helped pave the way for running backs and wide receivers alike.
The fact that people get so smitten with TIGHT END NUMBAHS is a slap in the face to guys like Odoms, who played in an era in which tight ends who were a major focus in the passing game were the exception, not the rule. Simply put, if you were going to grab a tight end other than Sharpe to fill out a Broncos’ roster, you better be picking Odoms before you pick somebody like Scheffler or Thomas.
Say it with me now, everyone: Riley Odoms is absolutely deserving of a spot in the Ring of Fame. In fact, it shouldn’t really be a debate.
I’ll also add that his receiving numbers are still notable given the time span that he played. When he retired, he was 6th in career receiving yards (right behind some guy named Ditka), 8th in career total receptions (ahead of the dark side addled Dave Casper) and 14th in career receiving touchdowns (ahead of Jackie Smith).