You’ve likely heard the news by now that Ryan Clady has called it a career. It would serve Broncos fans well to recap just how important Clady was to the franchise during his concurrent tenure.
At the end of 2007, the Broncos’ offensive line was in a rare state of disarray under the Mike Shanahan regime. Incumbent left tackle Matt Lepsis had retired after poor play that was aggravated by more than just age. Center Tom Nalen missed much of 2007 and would follow Lepsis into retirement soon after. Chris Kuper and Ryan Harris were still rather young, green players.
The Broncos immediately stabilized the biggest hole at left tackle by selecting Clady 12th overall in 2008. Clady not only started all 16 games as a rookie but did so at a high level, earning second team All-Pro honors for a Broncos offense that was outstanding that year.
The Broncos then underwent a state of upheaval with the replacement of Shanahan with Josh McDaniels, followed then by the arrival of John Elway and John Fox–with a dose of Tebowmania inserted and then replaced by the Peyton Manning era. But despite the frequent changes, Clady persevered, and earned Pro Bowl nods in three of four seasons from 2009-2012, and two first team All-Pro nods as well.
With the Broncos now clearly among the most serious contenders in the NFL, Clady was set up to be part of some very good times in Denver. But he suffered a Lisfranc injury in Week 2 that ended his 2013 season, and then tore his ACL in 2015 spring camps. Just like that, injuries sapped such an excellent career, and it’s especially cruel that, despite being on two AFC championship teams, Clady never got to play in a Super Bowl, an honor that he should have had if things were more just in the world.
Despite the potential that was unable to be met, potential that could have very easily pushed for a Hall of Fame career, Clady remains one of the best contributors to the Denver Broncos during his tenure with the team, and should be recognized as such.
Thank you, Ryan Clady.